Robert Perron recalls 1960s and 1970s Jamaica Plain

The Yellow Cab Driver
I was born in Roxbury in 1958.  By the time I was able to attend school, my family moved to 13 Orchard Street.  We lived in a beautiful three-story duplex, just down the street from the new Boy’s Club, which was on the corner of Orchard Street.  It was exciting, as a young boy, to see all the building going on down the street from my house.

I recall one day my mother, Kathryn M. (King) Perron, called the local Yellow Cab to go to my uncle’s house in Dorchester.  When the cab arrived, we all piled in and told the driver where we wanted to go.  I noticed a crack in the driver’s voice when he asked “where to ma’am?”  I quietly told my mom that the driver was crying.  Of course, my mom asked if everything was OK and the driver replied that his son, heading to Viet Nam on the USS Pueblo, was killed when he threw himself on a live grenade that landed near a group standing on deck.  During the ride the driver cried uncontrollably but got us to our destination safely.  We later found out that the cab driver lived on Orchard Street, just a few houses from us.

At that time I was too young to know the importance of such a moving experience, but I do now, and I will always remember that sad day for that Yellow Cab driver.  As this story continues, I will explain more about the courageous men and women that I have met or heard about in Jamaica Plain.

Third Grade at the Agassiz School
It was the early sixties and I had started school at the Agassiz School.  As I remember, there were the Agassiz and the “old” Agassiz schools.  I went to both but I don’t remember which building was old and which was new.  I can’t recall the names of my earlier teachers either, but my third grade teacher was Miss Manning. 

What a great teacher she was!  She took a liking to me because she said I had beautiful penmanship and she always picked me to write the day and date on the blackboard.  I recall we were always being treated with the utmost love, care and respect by Miss Manning. I remember one day one of our classmates came into class a little late and you could tell that he had been crying.  And it looked like his clothes hadn’t been washed and ironed for school either. Miss Manning took this young boy to the back of the room where there was a small closet.  Miss Manning told the rest of the class to take an early morning break and to put our heads on our desks.  Of course we did as we were told.

I peered out from under my folded arms to see Miss Manning washing up this little lad, and then, reaching up to a hanger behind the door, she gave him a clean pair of pants and a clean shirt to put on. 

To this day I wonder about that boy and the unhappy conditions he must have lived with.  It didn’t matter to the rest of the class; we were taught to respect others and never once did anyone ever say anything to that boy about the many mornings he came into class like that.

It was as if Miss Manning was more than a teacher to us.  She was like having your mother as a teacher and she made my grammar school learning experience one of the best times in my life.  Thank you Miss Manning.

Miss O’Hara’s Fifth Grade Class
My fifth grade teacher, Miss O’Hara, was a great inspiration to me.  She was my home- room reading teacher.  It seemed that for every holiday at the old Agassiz, Miss O’Hara and all the other classes would put on some kind of a play.  From a Thanksgiving Day play to Valentine’s Day we always had fun performing and I always got the lead part for some reason.  I can remember one Thanksgiving Day play I was to play the part of an Indian with long, dark, hair.  Miss O’Hara was sure to put on a great show.

Well, my mother wanted me to look my best for the play so I was sent to our local barbershop (across the street from the Mary E. Curley School) to get a haircut.  The next day, when I showed up for school, Miss O’Hara took one look at me and could have cried because my long hair was now short!

No fear …Miss O’Hara had an extensive wardrobe which included wigs.  I think I was the first boy to wear a wig in one of her plays, for as Miss O’Hara would say, “the show must go on.”  We would all gather in the auditorium on the top floor of the old Agassiz and give all the parents such a show!  Often we got standing ovations and Miss O’Hara’s beaming smile meant we all did a great job.  Boy, the fun we had!  

People I remember from back then at the Agassiz and old Agassiz Schools, Grades 3 –6:
Principal – Miss Preble
Vice Principal – Mr. Clement 
Teachers:
Miss Manning, 3rd Grade
Miss Platek, 4th Grade
Miss O’Hara, 5th Grade
Mr. Clement, 5th & 6th Grade
Mrs. Larson, 5th & 6th Grade
Miss Sullivan (Boudreau) 6th Grade
Miss O’Rourke, 6th Grade
Mr. Butler, wood-shop teacher
Mr. Dickey, drum teacher
Mr. Kelly – who became Principal in the late sixties

Then there are the students:
George Forrest,
Joe, Paul and Wayne Saulnier
Steven Teixeira
Kathy Dugan
Marrisa Taige
Susan Palumbo
Richard Leonard
Robert Bennett   
Paula Hovestadt
Mary McDonald
Kevin McDonald
Peter Papagiannopoulos
Mary Johnston
Eric Seacoy
Eugene Daniels
Robert Natale
Derek Anderson (or Sanderson)
Robert Conroy
Timothy Carabino
Salvatore Shasari
Ann Shasari

If you know of the whereabouts of any of these people, please contact me for more fun and let’s see if you remember some of the things I do.  If you have pictures …WOW!

Robert Perron
224 Greenbrier Drive
Palm Springs, Florida 33461
561-357-9563
Justonetriker @ netscape.com

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