Curtis Hall Has Many Memories Inside
John F. Fitzgerald - Mayor
Manus J. Fish - Supt. Public Bldgs. Lewis H. Bacon - Architect
Having read the bronze plaques at the entrance to Curtis Hall that tells its story, we next strike the area where I used to spend so much time that my mother would wonder why my fingers were wrinkled. My brains were floating in the water, which entered through my ears there.
On the third floor was the gymnasium where Joe McNamara was the instructor. He was a fine gentleman and a beautiful physical specimen of manhood, but he died almost overnight of pneumonia. He had a marvelous way of organizing classes in calisthenics to the rhythm of a piano. The pianist, a lady, was always ready and willing to incorporate requests into the program, such as "Dardanella," "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," "Long, Long Trail," "It's A Long Way to Tipperary," and all the other popular songs of the day.
The gym was well equipped with wood and steel wands, dumb-bells, ropes and poles for climbing, low and overhead parallel bars, horses, and weights.
The original Curtis Hall was destroyed by fire in 1908 and rebuilt in 1912 with the library as a separate building. I can remember a group of us children sitting in a corner on the floor while the librarian introduced us to the niceties of a book entitled "Katrinka," the story of a girl's life in Russia. I read that book a couple of times, and later I developed a craze for all the books of the historical fiction writer, Joseph Altscheler, who specialized in the Civil and Mexican Wars.
By Henry Keaveney
March 29, 1990
Excerpted from the 1920's memories, "Those Were The Days," by Henry Keaveney, first President of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.