Now in New Hampshire and More Pictures Tell the Story!

Happy Wednesday to you all!

Been a bit since I’ve been able to post, so thought I’d give a quick update on a new venue I was privileged enough to place the book for sale, and share with you a few representative photos of people and places described in Chapter 9.

First, I’m excited to announce that “The Last Ride in to Readville,” is now available at a great new consignment store at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire, called “Hand Made in….”  The proprietors, Mindy and Steve, have a similar store in Wilton, New Hampshire, and will be opening up a third location in Portland, Maine, very soon.  The stores are full of incredibly unique arts, crafts, products, books, etc., all produced by local artists.  Go check them out if you can!  Here’s a pic of the cool book display they put together for me, and the store itself.

 

 

The events in Chapter 9 occur during our short but impactful time living in the Mission Hill Projects in Roxbury, MA, in the late 1960’s.  In one scene in the narrative, I take a ride with my father as he heads out to take care of some errands or, rather, conduct some “Georgie business” as we used to describe it.

“Wanna take a ride when you’re done?” Georgie said to me one Saturday morning.
It was April 1968, and I was just finishing up a bowl of soggy puffed wheat. Puffed wheat was always in abundance, courtesy of the United States government as part of that regular pallet of surplus food they’d provide to us each month or so. It came in giant clear plastic bags and was pretty ghastly stuff. It looked more like packing material than something as edible as cereal. We’d put off eating it as the very last option when the pantry became bare of what we used to call “real food.” That was our euphemism for anything name-brand and not identified by generic bold black letters on a plain white label with words such as “flour,” “cornmeal,” or “raisins.” The puffed wheat was made even more off-putting by the watered-down powdered milk we poured over it that was sponged up so completely it was like balancing a spoonful of cotton balls when you tried to eat it.

This was back at that bleak apartment in the Mission Hill projects at 33 Plant Court. All in the Family and the Eddie Jones show were my parents’ and the nation’s prime-time favorites, and James Brown and the Beatles dominated the AM radio. As I sat eating at the table in the cramped roach-infested kitchen, I could hear a familiar voice coming from the black-and-white television in the living room bellowing “I have a dream!” It had been a few days since his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words were being replayed all over the television and radio stations. At eleven years old, I found myself both incredibly sad and now fearful following that tragedy.
We’d lived in that apartment in Roxbury since our most recent eviction from the first floor of a triple-decker on Poplar Street in Roslindale. I had especially loved that place because it was just down the street from the new library in Roslindale Square, from where I borrowed books like Johnny Tremain and The Red Badge of Courage and spent countless hours reading on my top bunk at night with a flashlight or listening to the Bruins play hockey through the earphone of my old nine-volt transistor radio that was hidden under my pillow when I was supposed to be sleeping. I continued that practice once we’d moved to the projects in Roxbury….”

Here’s me at the time of the infamous ride at about 10 or 11 years old…

Mike Projects

…Dad eased the Chevy out of the parking lot and onto the side road leading to Huntington Avenue. Even though he was only forty years old, he drove like a nervous old man and always used the old-fashioned hand signals to indicate his turns, sticking his arm straight out to indicate a left turn or positioning his arm at a ninety-degree angle to indicate a right. He took a right just opposite Spar’s Drugstore, spinning the steering wheel smartly in that direction while bracing the heel of his right hand, fingers spread, against the center top of the wheel, then let it go, causing the steering wheel to spin back on its own to the left and the wheels to straighten. It was one of his patented moves. We were headed north up Huntington Street toward Copley Square, so I knew he wasn’t going to check the mail, since the post office was in the opposite direction.

Here’s a picture of Spars Drug Store, much as it looked in 1968 when we took this ride.

Spars Drug Store

In an upbeat mood that night, Georgie stacked up the “Victrola” with a thick pile of scratchy 33 RPM albums by the likes of Dean Martin, Theresa Brewer, Eddy Arnold, and my mother’s favorite, Tammy Wynette, and we made Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove and drank real Coke that my father stopped and bought on the way home, and we all sat around the living room listening as my father crooned along from his recliner.

He had a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder with a small microphone, and we’d take turns theatrically performing into it, then play it back to listen to ourselves, giggling with hysterics as we ridiculed each other. As much as my mother tried to model herself after Tammy Wynette, my father seemed to do the same with Dean Martin. He even worked on combing his hair to look as much as he could like the famous Italian singer, although he denied it when Ma would tease him. Actually, he didn’t sound too bad when he didn’t try too hard to sound exactly the same as the original. Maybe a martini would have helped.”

Here are my parents, looking very much the part in their role as Tammy Wynette and Dean Martin (notice the cigarette), respectively, as I describe them…  Enjoy!

Ma Tammy WynettetDad Dean Martin

People Picture and Some Good News!

Happy Friday everyone!

Got a request from some readers to share some more “people pictures” particularly any showing “us kids” as we were growing up in and around the Boston area as described in the book.  I’m doing some digging, and putting together a “gallery” that I’ll be posting soon so stay tuned!  Meanwhile, here’s one that goes way back to about 1958!

Boudreau Kids 1958

At this point in time, only the four oldest of us were born, with David, Eddie, and Susan to come along later.  Right to left, the picture starts with me, then my sister Judy, second oldest, and Diane, the oldest, holding Loretta.  Note the snazzy, if not very busy clashing of the wallpaper, draperies, and the couch!   Again, more photos to follow soon.

As for the good news!

As of this week, my book is now available at two of the finest independent bookstores in the Massachusetts, the first, The Andover Bookstore in Andover Massachusetts. It is one of four stores managed by Hugobooks.

The Andover store is the second oldest continually operating bookstore in America! Founded in 1809, and celebrated its 200th birthday in October 2009. Here’s a picture and address! It’s an awesome store with a wonderful staff–go check it out if you’re in the area!

Andover Book Store.jpg

74 Main Street, Andover, Massachusetts 01810Tel: 978-475-0143
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-7:00pm Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm

The book is also available at the “Book Rack,” an amazing store opened in beautiful Newburyport, Massachusetts, back in 1972! Again, an incredible, knowledgeable, and friendly staff await your visit! Check it out.

If you live in New England and haven’t yet been to Andover or Newburyport, they’re  beautiful and quaint.  Newburypot is a seaside community with LOTS of history, great architecture, shops, and restaurants. Here’s a pic and the info!

Book Nook Newburyport MA.jpg

58 State Street, Newburyport, MA 01950
Tel: 978-462-8615

Spring/Summer/Fall Hours (April thru December): Mon–Thur 10:00am-6:00pm · Friday-Saturday 9:00am–9:00pm · Sunday 9:00am–6:00pm

Winter Hours (January thru March): Mon–Fri 10:00am-6:00pm · Sat 10:00am–8:00pm · Sunday 10:00am–6:00pm

Thanks to all!

Kirkus Indie Review!

Happy Friday to all!

Received my Kirkus Review yesterday! An important one I wanted to share, and very pleased with the result :)..Would love to see your reviews as well if you’d like to leave one on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Ingram Books etc.!    Here’s the text!  Thank you and happy reading!

THE LAST RIDE IN TO READVILLE
by Michael Boudreau
BUY NOW FROM AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, AND LOCAL BOOKSELLER

KIRKUS REVIEW
“In his debut memoir, a writer takes readers on a trip through his family’s troubled past, determined to find closure and forgive his dysfunctional parents for the hurt inflicted on him and his siblings.

Boudreau was born in 1956 in Boston, the third of eight kids, all of whom still bear psychological scars from a poverty-stricken, abusive childhood. He begins his story near the end. He and his wife were buying food and supplies for his 81-year old, twice widowed mother, Gert. By this time, only Boudreau and two of his siblings would have anything to do with “Ma.” He entered Gert’s house in Readville (a neighborhood in Boston) and painful, angry memories of a childhood marked by instability and neglect came flooding back: “By the time I reached my eighteenth birthday and enlisted in the air force, we’d easily moved more than seventy-five times,” always leaving in their wake a stack of unpaid bills. The visit serves as a fulcrum for Boudreau’s narrative, which vacillates between past and present as he reviews his life and family relationships. According to the author, his father, George, was “unpredictable, violent, and abusive” while his mother always assumed a posture of helplessness, standing by passively while her husband inflicted his beatings on one child or another. She attempted “to infect us all with her neuroses,” the author recalls. At 15, after a verbal and physical confrontation with his father, Boudreau permanently left home, moving into a Boston commune to live with his older sister, Diane. Plenty of justifiable rage flows from these pages, although it is packaged in articulate prose and wrapped in psychological theory. Some passages describing the author’s parents are very personal and a bit uncomfortable to read. Of his father, he writes: “He always took his full upper and lower dentures out the minute he came home…. He’d wrap them in the snot-filled handkerchief he always kept stuffed in his back pocket.” In this candid and moving book, readers will feel the constant battle between Boudreau’s training in community social psychology and his ever-present baggage of having been raised by emotionally damaged parents.

A brutally honest, engaging account that’s revealing, disturbing, and quite poignant.”

If you’d like to review in on-line as well, Just go to https://www.kirkusreviews.com/ or cut and past this link in your browser:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/michael-boudreau/the-last-ride-in-to-readville/

Thank you and see you soon!

 

 

Me, a Citizenship Award?

Happy Hump Day to All!

Again, I’d like to begin this post as I always do, by thanking everyone who’s supported my book/blog for their interest, support, and kind feedback!

A special thanks to those of you who’ve purchased the book and taken the time to write a review on Amazon, B&N, Lulu.com, etc. It means a great deal, and all honest reviews, thoughts and comments are most welcome and truly appreciated! I’ve added a new menu tile to make access to sites, such as Amazon, etc., just a click away.

In today’s post I continue on with sharing photos that provide some background/backstory on how they relate to the story and/or setting in the book.  In Chapter 10, I describe how when in the fourth grade I was attending the John D. Philbrick School in Roslindale (a Boston neighborhood), and was sent home with a sealed envelope addressed to my parents.  Here’s the school:

John D. Philbrick School

I couldn’t imagine the contents, but trudged home full of dread at what it could possibly contain.  What had I done wrong?  Here’s an excerpt:

“You do a good job,” she said. “I trust you with everything, you know that. You were always a good boy. I remember the time you won that award in fourth grade for being a polite citizen.”

It was surprising that she remembered that, yet alone brought it up. “It was a citizenship award, Ma,” I said. “Yeah, I remember. I got it when I was in the fourth grade at the Philbrick School in Roslindale.”……….

“Oh, yes, that’s right. It was a special award for being the politest boy in the whole school!” she said.
It was toward the end of the school year, and my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. McMillan, had asked me to stay after class, where she handed me a sealed envelope that had my mother’s name handwritten on it in Mrs. McMillan’s flowing penmanship.

“Now you take this straight home and give it to your mother, okay?” instructed Mrs. McMillan. “And don’t you open it,” she added.

I couldn’t imagine anything I’d done wrong to deserve a note home to my parents, but I only said, “Yes, Mrs. McMillan.” I walked, somber, over the two blocks back to the apartment, full of wonder and dread at what could be in that envelope and confused that I couldn’t figure it out. Ma was in the kitchen drinking tea at the table and smoking a cigarette. WRKO was on the radio, and Peter, Paul, and Mary were singing “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

I handed Ma the mysterious envelope and just stood there waiting for whatever shoe was about to fall. Ma tore it open, read it, smiled, and then put it on the table before bending down to give me a quick hug.

“You’re the best boy in the whole school!” she exclaimed.

I could only manage a soft, “What?”

“It says right here: ‘Michael David Boudreau has been selected as the citizenship award recipient for the John D. Philbrick Elementary School for school year 1966, signed, James R. Lernigan, principal’!”…..

“And do you remember Dad bought you a bike for winning?” Ma was now saying.

“Wow, I’d forgotten about that,” I said, although I hadn’t.

It was a couple of nights later, and my parents had gone out. I found myself once again staring out of the living room window in the dark, straining for any sign of their return. They were later than usual this time, and my heart was racing with a growing fear that this was going to be the night they really wouldn’t be coming back. When they finally pulled up, I raced out to the kitchen and back to my abandoned homework, pretending I’d been doing it all along. Now I was able to concentrate, and my anxiety was starting to slip away.

Ma came through the apartment front door, passed through the living room, and then walked down the hall to the kitchen. “Hey you,” she said, in a cheerier-than-usual voice. “Your father needs you downstairs to help him carry something.”

All I could think was maybe he’d hit his numbers again and was bringing Ma home a new television or something for their bedroom. I pushed away from my geography homework and ran down the two flights of stairs to the front of the house, where my father was waiting on the porch, grinning about something.

“Whaddya think, pal?” Dad asked, pleased with himself. Still in his work clothes, he was steadying a shiny new Columbia Flyer bicycle by the handlebars as my eyes swept over it in disbelief.
“Is that for me?” I said in hopeful expectation, afraid to get excited and wondering what in the world was happening and why. Was it the citizenship award? It must be!

“Yup, ain’t it a fuckin beauty? Take it for a spin!” Dad said, carrying it down to the sidewalk. It was a beauty all right. It was candy-apple red with white pinstripes, and it had huge chrome fenders that reflected the brilliant light shining down from the streetlamp. The handlebars were just as shiny, with long red and white tassels streaming down from the white rubber grips. It really was a new bike, and it really was mine.

I couldn’t find a surviving photo of that bike, but this cool ad from around that time in the 1960’s gives a great idea of my prize!

Columbia Flyer Ad (1)

As I was looking for any photos relative to my time at the John D. Philbrick, I stumbled upon this oldie but goodie–it shows me, in unnecessarily short trousers, participating in the 1966 or so school’s May Day dance in the schoolyard.

May Day Dance

Thanks to all for reading, and please “like” this blog if you’re so inclined!  That way, you’ll get e-mail notifications each time there is a new post!

Thanks to all for reading, and hope to see you back here soon!

Significant Emotional Events

Boudreau First Communion (2)Happy Weekend to All!

Again, I’d like to begin this post as I always do, by thanking everyone who’s supported my book/blog for their interest, support, and kind feedback!

A special thanks to those of you who’ve purchased the book and taken the time to write a review on Amazon, B&N, Lulu.com, etc. It means a great deal, and all honest reviews, thoughts and comments are most welcome and truly appreciated!  I’ve added a new menu tile to make access to sites, such as Amazon, etc., just a click away.

Thought I’d continue on with sharing photos that provide some background/backstory on how they relate to the story and/or setting in the book, and the photos today relate to what psychologists (or anyone) might call some significant emotional events, described in the book.

The first photo above is the one seen on the back cover of the book with me in my Holy First Communion suit, taken just hours after making my First Communion at our Lady of Lourdes Church, in Jamaica Plain, MA, and described in Chapter 3.  This was and is a significant emotional event for most Catholics as we progress across our sacramental journey, and moreover, as I mention in the book, it came with some perks too like money and candy from friends and relatives!  Here’s a picture of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Jamaica Plain.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church

As I tell you in the book, the joy of the day was quickly extinguished when my parents made it clear they expected me to wear my shiny new “Pat Boone” suit to public school on Monday, the next day following the festivities.  I of course, was horrified, because as proud as I had been on fulfilling the sacrament of my First Holy Communion, I did not want to face the bullying I was sure to encounter from my public school cohorts for wearing it.

In spite of my protests, my mother shoved me out the door to make the slow walk to school, full of dread, that would take me up and over intersection of Washington and Green Street, Jamaica Plan, via the elevator train stations’ span of thickly painted green stairs over to the other side of the street.  Boston’s elevator train system has long been dismantled, but here’s a photo of what it pretty much looked like that day in the early 1960’s.  This was Dover Station, almost a common mirror image found long the train’s route.

I’d crossed over to the other side, just 50 yards from the school, when I decided I’d just play hooky!  My first “sin” committed so soon after my recently obtained sanctification lol.  I went back to the apartment and to my mother’s extreme displeasure, and things got even more dicey when Dad got home that evening!

Green Street El Train

I hope you enjoy the photos, and I’ll continue the “photographic tour” of some parts of the book in the days ahead!

Thanks to all, have a wonderful weekend, and hope to see you back here soon!

Another Picture Sets the Stage

Happy Weekend to All!

Again, I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who’s supported my book/blog for their interest, support, and kind feedback!

A special thanks to those of you who’ve purchased the book and taken the time to write a review on Amazon, B&N, Lulu.com, etc. It means a great deal, and all honest reviews, thoughts and comments are most welcome and truly appreciated!

Same goes for this blog, so please “like” or “comment” and share any experiences or thoughts.

Thought I’d continue sharing photos, and provide some background/backstory on how they relate to the story and/or setting in the book.

Sandford Street

Today’s picture is of my mother’s house on Sanford Street in Readville, Massachusetts–the central location where the story is set.  The house itself served as part of the inspiration to write the book, and helped define the story-telling “device” that I decided to use.

As the opening scene in the book describes, I found myself begrudgingly in the Hanscom AFB commissary (along with my wife) doing our bi-monthly shopping for my mother, that we’d dutifully “schlepp” to her in Readville, and endure our typically very short visit, say 15-20 minutes.

It was after one of these trips to Readville, when it dawned on me that my relationship to my mother had been reduced to just those 15 minute visits, every two weeks, and just how pitiable that was.   And I spent more and more time thinking about just how “sideways” my family still was after so many years, and how’d it get, and stay, that way?

The idea for the book sprang from that, and after exploring the possibilities on how to ‘structure” the story, I hit on the idea:

“Why not tell the story moving back and forth in time over the course of just a 15 minute to Sanford Street.”

From that point I found I was able to take a typical visit to my mother’s house and turn it into a series of “snapshots” that brings the reader in and out of time to see glimpses of “how it got that way” with my family.

The photo shows the blue house on Sanford Street, and the cracked and broken curb on which I’d pull up to in either my truck or Jody’ BMW, two passenger side tires perched up on an angle.  Somehow that cracked and broken curb seemed most appropriate to the story.

The window on the right is the one in which my mother would wait, furtively, behind the sheer curtain as she watched us unload her groceries, etc., and waddle up the walk as described in Chapter 1 in the book.

It was in this house that my mother died.

My prayers for her, and my family, are constant–and the stories continue.

Many thanks again and see you back here soon I hope!

 

 

 

Pictures Tell A Story Too

Good morning!

As always, I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who’s supported my book/blog for their interest, support, and kind feedback!  A special thanks to those of you who’ve taken the time to write a review on Amazon, B&N, Lulu.com, etc.  It means a great deal, and all thoughts and comments are most welcome!  Same goes for this blog, so please “like” or “comment” and share any experiences or thoughts.

Some readers have asked if I could post a few photos of some of the people and places described in the book, and I thought that’d be a great idea!  I’ll post more in the future, but here’s one to start.

First one is a photo of the church that was so important to me growing up, and especially at one of the most difficult periods of my life during my family’s stint living in the Mission Hill Projects, Roxbury, Massachusetts.  It was at this church that I sought solace and refuge from the chaos of my family and life in the projects that stood in the church’s shadow, and where I began to develop a deeper sense of understanding about the world, myself, and my faith.  It’s official title is the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, but its best known simply as the Mission Hill Church.  As I mention in the book, we’d infuriate the nuns who taught us at the Catholic School when they’d overhear us call it “Our Lady of Perpetual Motion.”

Growing up, my aunts, uncles, and Grandmother on my mother’s side lived just blocks away, high atop the Mission Hill neighborhood in “triple-deckahs,” as we called them, most within shouting distance of each other.

Mission_Church_Boston_MA_USA

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!