Kirkland Road 1939-1989

Streets Addresses and People from Cambidge to Annisquam

By: - May 31, 2015

Kirkland Road 1939-1989

Number Sixteen
is the house in question
at the left hand corner
as you look toward
the dead end
past its central tree and
moveable street sign
on the wrong side
of Kirkland Street
as Mrs. Ellis declared
from Francis Avenue
from the correct side
of Kirkland Street
however near Somerville
to its rear and its left

Number Sixteen
held the Leontieff
family of three
the Missus the Professor
and daughter Svetlana
The Professor noticed
the toddler from
Number Fourteen
on his walk to work
in the big white stone
Littauer Center for
Public Administration
by Kirkland Street's final curve
into Massachusetts Avenue
walked her the three blocks
past Divinity Avenue
site of sexy poem by
ee cummings* involving
an automobile and
a virginal girl
Oxford Street
and Kirkland Place
to which Number Fourteen
mail frequently went

Three or so years later
the Leontieffs were leaving
house to be sold
Neighbors were asked
in that Nineteen Forty Four
or so whether it would
be all right if Negroes bought

Number Fifteen with its
Professor of Medicine
at Tufts University
its Missus teacher at The
Beaver Country Day School
daughters Betsy and Nancy
then ten and five or so
ex Jewish Atheists
who had a farm in Naples Maine
with its own pond canoe
and Nineteen Twenties
Model Something wooden
station wagon Ms Nancy
was allowed to drive
They ate anchovy paste
in the kitchen before dinner
and Betsy cut cucumbers
so thin all there was
to a sandwich was bread
It was required
that children at night
go downstairs and through
the kitchen and
a roughly constructed
way toward the barn
should they need to pee
that they dump lime
into one of the two holes
in the wooden seats
They all said O K
but five years later
the couple divorced
because Missus
School Marm ran away
with a lady teacher
with whom she lived
for many years
until alcohol
spoiled/ruined that
her daughter finding her
going to the bathroom
in the linen closet

Number Fifteen was frozen inside
parents upright in separate chairs
absorbed by uncomfortable
classical vibrations
Attorneys Tony and George
also listened in their studies
but said hello if children came along
After the divorce  a charming and warm
alcoholic mother and her same age daughter
came from Cheyenne Wyoming
Ms Irish had to be told
what kind of sickness the mum had
and that alcoholics were
usually charming people

Number Thirteen with
the two Miss Robinson
one of whom sat in
an ample wicker armchair
wearing white flannel
accented with/in pink
while the other wore
an unremarkable house dress
and bustled out of the
morning sunny front room
to which she had brought
Nancy and the former toddler
born thirteen days apart
fond of visiting and
receiving such treats
as American Red Cross
tin buttons with folding ends
could be pushed
around a vestment
The ladies said O K
from the house which
would belong to the
sister of Donald Regan
Important Person to
President Reagan
who became blind
because she cried so much
on the decease of her mum
She didn't care to take care
identified her clothing by tags
with shapes or some such
the Negro girl told the
Irish Catholic girl when they
were in college
or after

Number Eleven with
Mister and Missus Cote
and their own garage
near the solitary street light
which shone in the bedroom window
of the Irish girl growing up
before she moved to third floor
privacy in high school
from which she saw the clocks
heard the hours gong
from atop Memorial Hall
site of SAT Exams
and musicales and memories
of Harvard Civil War Dead
Northern and Confederate
The tower was in flames
against that orange October sunset
to be rebuilt some forty years hence
too small for the nobility
of the original
an insult to Mz Irish
a tribute to the financially
rigid university
This fire had to be pointed at
wordlessly with fingers
by younger siblings
returning from a movie
at the University Theater
as they passed the firefighters
next door sitting out in chairs
smoking cigarettes by Quincy Street
where Mz Irish got off the bus early
taunted by Black Maria
blaming her white skin
because the white drunk
kept haunting her
"Would you love your father
if he was drunk?"
This by the skinny iron
black uprights of the fence
and gate to Harvard Yard
opposite The Crimson's
"College President
objects to Erection in
Harvard Square" pillbox

As the Congregational Church
on Gloucester's Middle
and School Streets
next to Central Fire Station
burned to the ground
and the Lorraine Apartments
on Middle and School
and the Temple on Middle
all burned within sight
of the fire fighters
had they been looking

The light was across
from the house high tree
growing in the street
between Cote and Fish
with its moveable traffic sign
black on white
probably warning
about the tree
on its octagonal cement base
a child could roll on edge
And didn't Number Ten
have fine locust or two
dropping such flowers
in the ivory spring

The Cotes had the only
driveway on the road
which Missus Fourteen rented
when she got a station wagon
in about Nineteen Fifty Two
and she lost and found
her tiny engagement
diamond in that driveway
in that green Chevvy
we spilled the open can
of white paint in the middle of
identical to Missus Schrafft's
in Gloucester whose son
was fond of spinning it
round and round Grant Circle
until the police came
or tearing through Wheeler's Point
chased by guys in another car
terrifying the teen with him
or driving crazy in Gloucester
and whipping across the town line
to safety in Rockport
Mz Schrafft's wagon
had a dent in its green roof
Her son Pat shot a one hundred
and ten pound deer
on Wingaersheek
and sent everyone it's photo
He was fond of repeating
"There's other gears"
"My back teeth are floating"
Pat went to Florida
on the GHS 1957 football squad
in which Peter Hickey stopped
at the ninety-five  yard line
losing the championship
earning the title "Wrong Way Pete"
making his police career
in Lanesville an impossibility
Patrick left great nephews
who play Mites ice hockey
with Mz Irish's two grand sons
The Cotes said O K
to Negroes in Number Sixteen
leaving unknown folks
at the Somerville end
later occupied by
a famous black professor
named Gates after
Harvard's Tom Lehrer
who wrote lyrics such as
"Don't solicit for your sister
That's not nice
Unless you get a good
percentage of her price"
who would play on summer evenings
with the Irish Catholic Dad's
attempts at classical
while he used every glass
and dish in the house
the family in post World War II
Gloucester Snobbe Area
called Annisquam where fire fighter
Dexter Sargent at the corner
of Walnut and Leonard
told how you came back
from the war and couldn't walk
through yards anymore
didn't know the neighbors

In those summers of open windows
Tony and Evelyn had a patio built
and put a play house in it
which doubled for outdoor
furniture storage
there was a stockade fence
on three sides
the fourth up the back steps
to the kitchen and cellar
Atty George played
the third floor upright
with Tom and the pianists
who had moved with
two grand pianos
into Number Fifteen
before the quiet son of
Carl Van Doren
whose autograph
Irish Mama sought
on his thick book
and brother of
Charles Van Doren
famous for cheating
for six or eight weeks
on an intellectual
T V Game Show
whose cousin Peter Van Doren
had a family the Irish girl
spent lots of time with
married in Manhattan
before Doris Kearn Goodwin's
husband Richard lived
at Number Fifteen

And the Fish Family
at Twelve and the Irish Catholics
at Fourteen who mimicked
the Negro Family
with Lawyer Fathers
up from poverty
Antonio de Jesus Cardozo
orphaned at seventeen
in the Cape Verde Islands
coming to California
his wife Evelyn from the Belmont
end of Cambridge
from the Negro neighborhood
who only had to go to church
Christmas and Easter
in new fancy dresses
and patent leather shoes
while Mz Irish had only
sturdy brown tie shoes
until seventh grade
dancing school
when she was the only
girl in brown Stride Rites
Mums College Graduates
Boston University's Evelyn
forever on the telephone
with or for The Boston Gays
or The Cambridge Community
Center Mz Irish went there once
surprised to discover so many negroes
Radcliffe's Jane going to lectures
exercise classes reading
planning to write a detective
story with one of the several friends
she kept until death

It was Evelyn who asked
"Why is it always Melissa and Maria
Or Melissa and Nancy?
Never Maria and Nancy?"
They tried while Melissa sat
on the porch where
the toddler drained
her first beer
while Attorney George
put up the green and white
striped awning
behind the hydrangea
porch where Mz Teen Irish
forced boyfriends to wait with her
while rumpled Attorney George
in flannel pyjamas came to unlock

But the pair wasn't a pair
Evelyn also told us
not to stir the pot
counter clockwise
lest the ingredients separate
The attorneys' daughters
got their first and second
puppies together and the
Christmas Raleighs
they tried to ride in the basement
outside Number Sixteen's
European Wine Cellar
Evelyn took them to buy
their college typewriters
Maria's pale blue
Melissa's pink
with twin tin tan cases
whose aluminum rims
clicked together for carrying
Maria's was dented
Melissa refused to trade
sister like
both daughters in the same class
at the Harvard gestated
Shady Hill School
with the daughters of
Mrs. Ellis of Francis Avenue

Missus Fourteen lived there
fifty years Attorney George
after ice skating at the MDC rink
from which he had had to bring
his middle aged daughter
for stitches in her chin
who had been smiling
"Falling is O K" to a watching child
neglecting her own tumble
in Somerville where he liked
bringing roses for the ladies
dying from a stroke
on the eve of
his grandson's tenth
birthday as Mz Irish
was preparing supper
the telephone cord
reaching from the wall
hanging over the stove
Evelyn died a two year death
of lung cancer while
the girls were in college
never having smoked
of course
Tony remarried
to the vicious outrage
of his elder daughter
settling in a little house
at Fourteen Paul Revere Road
at the edge of Lexington
by Arlington
An unknown purchased
Number Sixteen
A Harvard Newspaper Man
from Georgia bought Fourteen
trying to modernize its character
by adding skinny blinds
removing Missus Fourteen's
evening custom of pulling dark
green shades during the war
then pink designer curtains

During The Sixties
the sort of lower class
Savenors who owned
and worked at the market
down Kirkland by Somerville
rented rooms to Hippies
who shared their morning sun space
with Mz Irish who welcomed them
to her Number Fourteen
sunny afternoon steps
to the unspoken disgruntlement
of her private folks

They all said O K
and only once did
Irish Catholic daughter
call her friend Nigger
criticized by all

*  Cummings, E E, 100 Selected POEMS, she being Brand, Grove Press, N Y,
1954, p 24.

Melissa de Haan Cummings
29 May 2015