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,, 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.


Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Locus of Control…What is that again?

Boudreau Book Cover ALC

Good day to all!

If you’re new to this blog, welcome!

Once again, I’m extremely thankful to so many out there who’ve supported my book and all of the kind comments and feedback provided thus far!  It’s been a bit over a month, and I’m humbled and grateful to all!  Book is now available from the publisher at:

And also Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, Ingram Books, and many other platforms.

Just google my name :)..

If you do read the book, your on-line review would be also greatly appreciated!

I’ve had many interesting questions and comments from readers relating to how it is so many children growing up in the same household can have so many different outcomes as adults.  Of the many reasons why this might be so, one psychological principle I mention in the book is called “locus of control,” where we have either an internal or external belief surrounding our ability to control our own destiny, as it were.

Here’s a great article from Psychology Today that gives a brief, but solid overview of this idea.  Enjoy!



Many Thanks!

Boudreau Book Cover ALCGood morning!

Well it’s been about a month since the book launch, and I’m so grateful and humbled by your response thus far–thank you!

LOTS of people have written or remarked saying how cathartic the experience of writing and releasing such a story must have been.  Although in the preface I do add a disclaimer of a sort that catharsis was not a primary goal in telling the tale, I have to admit, now that I’m taking a breath, that sharing the story with others did let some residual air out of my psychological balloon that I didn’t realize was still there.  Childhood memory is powerful stuff!

People are also asking me, so what’s the next story?

Got a few ideas churning, both memoir and fiction, that surround territory I’m most familiar with–family dynamics, social psychology, personal growth through experience and relationships, good and bad, etc.  As usually happens with me and writing, one “aha” moment will arise, and off I go!  Will keep all posted.  I’m also open to any ideas anyone out there might have through a personal experience that may have been deep and impactful.  Not sharing the details, of course, but more the general story–perhaps one that you feel may be relatable or resonate with the rest of us.

I’m so grateful for all the feedback I’ve received so far, much of it by people who DO emphasize, somewhat sadly, how relatable the story is to their own saying things like “I could have written that book.”

As for the story, I’d love for readers to comment here on the blog on any part of the book that may have touched you in a certain way, or to simply get clarity or context about a particular passage.

It would also be greatly and humbly appreciated if any readers are inclined to leave an honest review of the book on any of the platforms where the book is available:

And of course if you recommend the book to friends or family, it may also be purchased at those sites as well!

Going forward, I’ll be posting excerpts/passages from the book, and talk about some of the back stories to the stories in the book.  Some of that will be based on questions I’ve already been asked, and from things I’d like to further offer readers.

Again, many thanks to all, and please comment away!


Exciting Day…Book Now in Print!

Hi everyone!

After working on the project for five years, “The Last Ride in to Readville” is in print and available to order from the publisher, “”  Here’s the link!

Lulu is a “publish on demand” independent publisher.  As books are ordered, they are printed within 3-5 business days and promptly shipped.

The book is available in 6×9 paperback and also as an eBook.

In 4-6 weeks the book will also be available in paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other on-line bookstores.

E-books will also be available then on Kindle. Amazon, and many other e-book sites as well.

Thanks to each and every one of you for following the book’s progress and reading my posts!  It means a lot, and I hope if you do purchase the book, you leave an honest review on the site where you may have purchased the book!  Much appreciate that!  I’ll continue posting here, and widen the content to discuss the book, family and psychology issues, and other topics!

Final Book Cover for Post

Chapter 8, Continues…

Readville Sign

Unfortunately, although they helped, those groceries we got on credit weren’t nearly enough to bring sufficient food into the house for so many hungry stomachs. Since we were broke just about all of the time, we were forced with regularity to accept other, just as embarrassing means of provision. I came to hate the refrain of “we’re broke” over and over again whenever any of us asked my parents for anything or if we complained of hunger pangs. I swore I’d never use it or allow it to be uttered in my own home, no matter what the budget might be, and I’d be damned sure to work as many jobs as necessary to never get to be called “broke” and get to the point where there were literally just coins in the house.

We came to expect that answer, whether it was the request for just a nickel to go buy some penny candy down the street or maybe the fifty cents it would take to pay for our own ice cream whenever we’d be invited along to take a ride to the ice cream stand in Walpole by a friend’s family. We’d at once, but with politeness, defer the invitation, but our friends’ parents would always insist that whichever one of us it was tag along and go with them to the Bubbling Brook on Route 109 on the Westwood-Walpole line.

They’d have all us kids go and sit at one of the picnic tables around back of the stand after taking our order, so at least we were spared having to watch them reach into their wallet on our behalf. I’d always ask for just one scoop of butter pecan, which I loved even though it hurt my teeth and I had to swallow the nuts whole, since I couldn’t chew without pain. Inside, I wished for one of those giant banana splits with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream drowning in hot chocolate sauce and topped with a mountain of whipped cream and maybe even some marshmallow too, but they cost $1.50.

Always pretty social, I not only made friends with others my age in my neighborhood who were dependent like us upon government food and also had to make one cheap pair of sneakers from the sale bin at Bradlees or Zayre last an entire year but also met lots of “normal” kids at school who lived blocks away in real houses that their parents owned, with fences, lawns, garages, and most important of all, full refrigerators and freezers.

I remember one such friend: a short, stocky Italian boy in the fourth grade named Pasqualino Giammarco. He’d occasionally invite me over to his house after school to play a game of catch or kick a soccer ball around in his neat and manicured backyard that was surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence with sharp tips. It would be a few hours yet until dinnertime, but I could already smell the deliciousness wafting from the kitchen where I knew Pasqualino’s grandmother was concocting another Italian feast for his family. She had come to America from a small village near Naples ten years earlier to live with her son and daughter-in-law in, and she made sure she kept them, Pasqualino, and his six brothers and sisters well fed.

We’d play in the yard until the sun started to set and suppertime approached, and Pasqualino would often ask me to stay over to eat with them. Even though I’d be close to salivating at the odor of the pasta sauce or soup or whatever it was Nonna was cooking that was floating to my nostrils from the kitchen, and I knew I was going home to a dinner that would be something like white government rice mixed with watered-down cream of chicken soup, I’d hesitate and then decline, saying I had to go.

“Nah, thanks Pasqualino. I’d stay, but my father will kill me.”

I’d stayed over for supper a few times in the past, and Pasqualino couldn’t have known that if I got found out, I could end up getting a beating for it.

“What, my food is no fucking good for you!”

I could hear my father screaming at me as he raised and lowered the belt. “You get the fuck home for supper next time! What, do you think your shit is ice cream? My food is no good for you, Mister Better than Everyone?” Still, I was tempted to stay, despite the risk, because the sumptuous spread being put together inside that kitchen was worth it.

“C’mon,” Pasqualino would insist. “Nonna told me to tell you to come in. We got plenty.”

Nonna was how they referred to his grandmother, and she too was always commenting on how skinny I was. I hated being so thin compared to the other boys my age growing up, and I became sensitive and embarrassed whenever anyone pointed it out, although I know they said it mostly out of concern. From other kids, of course, it was a form of ridicule, and I’d often end up in a fight over it. I always wore long sleeves, sometimes in layers even in the heat of summer, to hide my puny arms; and of course, shorts were definitely out of the question.

“Nah,” I said again. “Maybe next time. But thank your grandmother for me, okay?”

“Sure,” he said. “But Nonna says to take this.” He handed me a chewable red vitamin he’d pulled from his pocket.

“Thanks,” I said, popping it in my mouth and tasting cherry. “See ya at school.”

Chapter 8 Begins…

Note to readers:  Well, final edits nearly complete according the publisher, so looking at final cover and polishing up cover copy!  Early spring release looking good!  I’ll keep everyone posted, and already working on ideas for a follow-on project :)….

Readville Sign

Chapter 8
“Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Sure, I’ll give him a call and see if I can get him to pick up,” I told her. Ma had given up calling Dave long ago because she knew he’d never pick up for her. God bless caller ID. Lately he’d been hard to reach. I’m sure he was getting tired of getting preached to whenever any of us mentioned that he really ought to give her a call at least once in a while or maybe check in on a holiday. I guess he felt he was through with her, at least for now, so he was keeping his distance. He’d more than earned the break from her.
“When was the last time you saw him?” I asked. Had to be over a year at least I was thinking.

“Shit, I don’t know,” she said sounding angry. “I just remember he stopped down the street at Johnny’s Market and brought me some juice and a quarter pound of bologna and that’s the last I ever saw of him.”
“Well, I hope they didn’t recognize him,” I said half-laughing.
“Why?” she said. “What’s that matter?”
“Ma, please. You don’t remember that Dad left Johnny hanging like he did to so many other guys?”

Johnny Vaccaro’s store was really named Marascio’s Market after Johnny’s father-in-law who’d originally bought the place. It was the prototypical neighborhood “connah store” and just a couple of blocks from Ma’s house and it sat on the corner of River and Norton Streets, right across the street from Tommy’s Car Wash. Probably fair to say that every family in every neighborhood in Boston always had their own corner store and Johnny’s was now Ma’s—again.

It was owned by the Vaccaro family that had lived in Readville I imagined for generations since he took it over about 1959 or so, and nowadays was apparently managed by one of the children since Johnny himself had become too old to do so although I heard he still kept a hand in and sat around at a card table all day with a few cronies in a little room of the store just off to the side of the main counter. I heard he’d worked up until just a couple of years before, still slicing and wrapping cold cuts behind the vintage deli counter with its case filled with all kinds of delicacies we rarely if ever got to enjoy. Imported parmesan cheese, balls of sweet and soft mozzarella, bright green olives, and my favorite, prosciutto di Parma. He was known around Boston and Readville as “The Sausage King,” making them fresh every day, and ran Mayor Menino’s mayoral election night parties for twenty years making five hundred pounds of sausage for each event.

Years before during the early seventies when we lived just down the street on Edson Terrace, Johnny’s was our corner store, and I could remember even then Johnny or someone else behind the counter handing me or one of my brothers or sisters countless packages of those wrapped cold cuts, almost always only bologna, although we’d sneak in a few slices of Genoa salami once in a while, and then him writing the price right on the wrapping with a black Sharpie. He’d check us out at the register along with other items like maybe a half gallon of milk, a loaf of bread for sandwiches, and a couple of envelopes of Kool-Aid, like Goofy Grape. All of it on credit of course. He’d then write down each item on our family’s ever-growing IOU that he kept along with any others in some kind of ledger or book. I remember he sometimes even generously threw in a package of Oreos or Hydrox cookies at no charge especially for us kids.

“You tell your father to pay me next time, eh?” he’d sometimes say. Or, “You kids gotta eat more too, you tell your mother! And those teeth!” He’d even put Ma’s Kotex pads on credit whenever she’d send one of us on a special trip down to the store with a folded note telling us to “hand it to the man.” I made sure I was scarce during her time of the month. Things were embarrassing enough already. He was among the kindest and most generous people we’d ever known, and I could only imagine how many countless others like us he helped throughout his life.

Who knows how much money was owed to Johnny by the time we’d moved on from Edson Terrace to take up our next new residence and the ultimate victimization of another unsuspecting landlord and corner store proprietor. Although it wasn’t our fault, we kids always felt guilty and conspiratorial about taking so much from these nice people over the years across so many neighborhoods, and hating doing it but didn’t know what else we could do. It felt like shoplifting, but with the owner’s permission.
Sometimes when I happened to stop into any of those corner stores still in business, and there are plenty, I’d “accidently” include an extra ten or twenty dollar bill with my payment, leaving the money on the counter and tell the clerk to “keep the change.” I knew I could never make full reparations, but I figured a little bit here and there couldn’t hurt.

Dad himself would never go in person and make the arrangement for credit at whichever corner store happened to be ours at the time. Since Diane was the oldest, he’d write one of those folded notes and send her to the store with the instructions to hand it to the “boss.” That person would then called my father on the phone, where he’d be smooth talked by my father into believing that he’d receive full restitution by the fifteenth of every month, no problem, from a grateful father who just needed a little help from time to time to make ends meet while feeding eight hungry kids and a sick wife.
He’d stay true to his word for the first month or two, but like clockwork, that would erode and we’d be sent to face the store owner and his mounting frustration, month by month, but who couldn’t, most of the time, deny food to the skinny, hungry kids with the rotting teeth. After a few months of that we knew that it wouldn’t be too long before we’d see the rented moving truck so we’d start to stock up on empty cardboard boxes. We wouldn’t get them from Johnny’s or whichever was our corner store though so as not to tip them off. It was always best to just disappear without warning.

To be continued….


The Last Ride in To Readville…Chapter 7, Conclusion

Readville Sign

For at least the better part of the twenty years after my father died, it was David who had stepped in to try to help Ma the most in terms of “taking care of things.” I left for the Air Force when I was eighteen and he was only twelve, but he was eighteen in 1981 when I was reassigned back near Boston during the final months of Dad’s terminal illness. I was sent back to Germany a short time later, and David was left as the one to “take care of her,” and the one my mother turned to with Mighty Mike on the lam in Europe. If her car needed a battery or the electricity was about to be cut off at her apartment, Dave would find a way to pay for it. He remembered her every birthday and lent her twenty dollars or more here and there knowing he’d never get it back. He looked after her always, in spite of the relentless demands on his time and wallet, never seeming to hold a grudge for her part in not protecting him from Georgie over the years, and it wasn’t until later that he realized just how much she’d actually had come between he and my father.

David was always a mischievous, but good kid growing up. Our age difference was a bit too wide for us to hang around the neighborhoods together but we’d toss a football or play some street hockey in the driveway now and again. Sometimes he’d start a fight with an older kid that I’d have to finish but I didn’t mind. He was always smart and had a quick tongue, so for that my father seemed to single him out for extra derision and verbal and physical abuse. Even though I’d left home at fifteen and on lousy terms, once I went into the Air Force and almost at once earned my new found status as Mighty Mike, it was David who was left behind to continue to demonstrate to my parents just how much he could never measure up to me.

A popular kid, he’d spend his time hanging out under the hood of one of his buddies’ father’s car or helping them and their dad put up a deck in a backyard or to wallpaper and paint a room. They’d all treat David like a father or big brother, and along the way he developed and honed impressive skills from plumbing to construction of which I’ve always been envious. He was an amazing hustler, in a likable way, street smart and daring with a great sense of humor, and he always found ways to make a few bucks.
Other than negative attention, my father never gave him much at all. And of course it didn’t help that my mother was right there to provide a constant wedge between them as well by looking to David to be her protector. By making Dad his obvious foil, she cleverly put him in an inherently adversarial relationship with his own father, Oedipus style.

Dave ended up playing hooky more and more, finding easy mischief here and there, and then quitting school without graduating although he was among the brightest students. I could only imagine that he had to have been drifting inside and couldn’t see what meaning school could even have for him when no one seemed to care whether he even went or not, or what his future beyond might be. He did a short stint in the Army, then came back home, married and had children while managing a few small businesses of his own in Hyde Park.

Everyone in town knew my brother. I used to joke and call him “the mayor” because he was so well-known and well-connected. If you needed a lawyer, he’d make a quick call for you. Can’t get a plumber on the weekend? No problem, he’d get someone there right away. He’d do anything for anybody and was well liked by everyone.

But even his patience with Ma and her relentless neediness had run out. As she always had since we were teenagers, she’d criticize and demean our girlfriends and boyfriends and later our spouses for those of us that married, and she was always harsh towards David’s wife with her mean gossip and constant snide comments. That, coupled with the endless phone calls he’d receive from her begging for orange juice, or in a panic over running out of diabetic test strips, were causing too much of a strain on him and his family so he just checked out one day. He just had no more to give her and I couldn’t blame him.

He called me after he’d made up his mind. “Fuck it Mighty Mike. I’m done” he said flatly, and that was that. In truth I couldn’t believe he’d hung on as long as he had. We ourselves didn’t talk much with him involved in his businesses and doing a lot of volunteering assisting veterans across the state and me living an hour away or so from Boston. I glanced over to the bookcase where Ma kept a cluttered arrangement of family photographs in cheap frames to see if his portrait taken while at Fort Dix, New Jersey, during boot camp in the Army was still there next to mine taken during my basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas back in 1975. Our features were hard to see through the thick layer of nicotine that coated the glass, but there we were, him in his green service cap and me in my dark blue one.

“Oh would you?” Ma said trying to sound hopeful. “I really miss him.”
That’s funny, I mused. She hasn’t mentioned his name in months. But, I wanted to catch up with him anyway so I would give him a call and maybe grab lunch in Cleary square before the month was out, Mighty Mike’s treat

Chapter 7, Continues…

Readville Sign

Note to readers:  Editor making final recommended changes, book cover in design, and publisher expects a late Jan, early Feb release!  Keep ya posted :)…

I did learn that depression and anxiety ran way back through my mother’s side of the family, and her own home life was dominated, at least in the early years, by an alcoholic father although she never drank herself. By all accounts Nana was a modest drinker, and was not overtly affectionate with any of her children any one of which could be physically or emotionally ostracized for any perceived grievance on her part. It wasn’t unusual when growing up to know that one of my aunts or uncles might be estranged from her at any given time and maybe had been for years.

One of my aunts once told me that Ma had come back very much changed after her teenage visit to see relatives in Old Town, Maine one summer, the only trip she ever took out of state. It was as if something had happened up there, she said, that made Ma even more anxious than ever, and suddenly promiscuous. She was only seventeen. Did someone abuse her in some way? Might it have been maybe an uncle or a cousin? Some stranger? Was she dragged into the woods by a band of marauding lumberjacks while picking blueberries? No one seemed to know what if anything happened that summer or wouldn’t say if they did. She never talked about it and it was shortly thereafter that she met Georgie.

“Well the offer stands Ma, just let me know okay? It’s only a visit, what’s to be nervous about?”

“It’s my kids who should be here taking care of their mother!” she now snapped at me again. “I was a good mother! Someday you’ll find me dead in this fucking chair and they can all go to hell!” She was fond of throwing out that comment anytime she was feeling extra bitter.

“Here we go again” I said sighing, not wanting to go there but starting to do so in spite of myself. “Ma, everything isn’t as perfect as you think you remember it to be. We’ve talked about this so damn many times, and with your therapist too, you know that.” She became agitated and snarled at me. “You kids were always clean! My therapist says the past was the past!” Indeed.

True enough, but in saying things like that to Ma, her therapist really only heard my mother’s distorted version of the past. She’d suggest to me ways to try to bring my siblings into a dialogue with my mother to help address old hurts and maybe build from that and perhaps then everyone could let go and move on and get rid of some of the residual anger and resentment. But, she just didn’t get it. First off, my mother was incapable of being a positive part of any such efforts even if people were willing, which they would never be.

In spite of whatever insight that I would provide the therapist, she just couldn’t grasp the enormity of how the collective past in the minds of Trudy’s kids was now a boiling pot of bubbling and volatile emotions that could not be so easily cooled by the mere dulcet tones of any therapeutic advice anyone might give so freely so many years later.
I tried to check myself but still not able to resist, I slipped, stupidly, into my own therapist mode yet again. If Jody were there she’d have cut me off saying that she was hungry, and it was time to get going.

“Yes ma, I know, the past is the past. But you’ve got to understand that things are the way they are precisely because the past does matter, no matter what the therapist might say. You told me that she said that everyone should be able to move on. She’s right, but it’s not that easy. And didn’t she tell you that in dealing with the past, other people’s memories matter, just like yours. You get that, don’t you? Your memories are your own and they affect you, right?” She only looked at me with a blank expression.

“It’s the same for everyone else,” I went on. “Those memories have a very big impact on all of us. On our lives and our relationships—including the one we have with you. What I’m saying is you can’t expect everyone else to worry about and respect only your feelings when they don’t believe you have ever once considered theirs. You have to understand and care about their feelings, get it? It’s about empathy Ma!”
This was maddening and stupid, and I was starting to get pissed off at myself because once again I hadn’t stuck to the script! Dump the groceries, kiss her forehead, plop down her allowance, grab any mail, shoot the bull for a few minutes, kiss her forehead, then get the hell out of there.

No sooner had those last words I’d said to her come out of my mouth when I remembered an article on personality disorder that I’d read in a recent issue of some psychology periodical.

“Empathy is the action of understanding, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. For a number of reasons, showing empathy is problematic for people with borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or both. Those with BPD are so caught up in their own emotional tornados that your concerns get lost in the chaos.”

Geeze, what an ass I was going down that hopeless road again with her. I’d been doing so well over the last few visits in not taking the bait and focusing only on what it was I could control when it came to her needs. That included the shopping, the banking, the bill-paying, the doctor’s appointments and above all, my own emotions. But, here I was, doing it again, trying to reason with the unreasonable and feeling that familiar agitation taking over that let me know it was almost time to get out of the “loony bin” for another two weeks.

“Well, I’ll give David a call and see if he’s ready to talk with you again, okay? Would that make you feel better?”

To be continued…