Based on a 2011 interview with Ted Walsh, a 73-year resident of Rosemary Street, one of the founders of Arborway Associates.
By Peter O’Brien
In the early 1950s a group of returning veterans who had grown up together as the Rosemary Rosebuds, from Rosemary and South Streets, decided to form an association to expand their social activities which until then were spontaneous outings to the movies, day-trips to the beach, and various sports events and parties. Those outings were launched from the group’s regular meeting place, “the mailbox,” located at Rosemary and South Streets.
They hoped that by adopting an area-wide name, Arborway Associates, they would encourage wider membership and they could sponsor dances, group rentals at local beaches and seaside communities, and other social gatherings that would attract others, especially young women, from near and far corners of Jamaica Plain. It was also hoped it would advance the social graces of the young veterans, especially in the mysteries of ballroom dancing, since many of the then-popular dance halls like Moseley’s in Dedham, The Totem Pole in Newton, Coral Gables in Weymouth, The Beachcomber in Wollaston and the dance halls at Nantasket, Rexhame, and Revere beaches were encouraging stag as well as couples’ attendance. Irish dances were regularly held at Hibernian Hall at Dudley Street and the nearby Metropolitan or Hibernia Hall at Forest Hills, but most dances were avoided by the dance-shy Rosebuds.
Ironically, the Arborway Associate’s first endeavor was to sponsor a dance at the Hotel Bradford, located at 275 Tremont Street, Boston. The Bradford held regular, well-attended, dances led by the well-known Boston dance bandleader, Baron Hugo. The association’s first annual dance was scheduled for April 23, 1954 and it required much planning and coordination as well as an intense sales effort to fill a small book of ads from generous sponsors and supporters. A copy of the book of ads can be found here.
Sadly, the dance was poorly attended and thus was barely able to break-even, despite the modestly successful ad-book sales. It was, however, a valuable learning experience in everything except dancing and the Rosebuds continued to avoid the dance floor until, as they got older, free flowing spirits loosened them up and provided the courage to get out there during weddings and co-ed parties.
So the Arborway Associates died after the one attempt to grow the Rosemary Rosebuds’ social lives. Soon, as marriage and family obligations took over, nearly the entire original group left Jamaica Plain, scattering the once close-knit crowd. The break of nearly 60 years was closed by a 2010 informal reunion at a Doyle’s luncheon. The luncheon group is expanding as they continue to meet to tell ‘war’ stories and to reminisce about growing up in the good old days of 1940s and 50s Jamaica Plain. To a man they agree there was no better place. And, best of all, they all eventually became very good dancers and several married Irish colleens they met at the Irish dances.