Thursday, November 13, 2008

That's very Dorchester

When people say, "Dorchester," they are referring to a part of Boston that is big, burly, and robust. They are talking about one of the muscles that pumps life into this big-hearted city. People from Dorchester wear their allegiance on their sleeves. Once bitten by the Dorchester bug, there's no going back to where you came from originally.

When old Irishmen snore in the wee, morning hours on the top floor of thier Adams Street three-decker, their breath is exhaled in three syllables: Doooor-ches-terrrrr. It is like the rumble of paving stones and the last century's newspapers in a galvanized bucket. The breeze off Dorchester Bay refreshes and invigorates. This is why most people who live above the ground floor keep thier windows open at night.

A story in the Boston Herald dated November 13, 1908 describes a fishwife who worked a stall in Haymarket. At day's end the fishwife would give her unsold clams and mussels and scuppies to the poor. As the reporter remarked, "That's very Dorchester of her." After packing up her wares, she took the horse-drawn omnibus home to Upham's Corner.

Crime in Dorchester makes the headlines but not all the unreported, little niceties that are exchanged every day in the neighborhood's little villages. We won't argue with schooled editors who know how to sell newspapers. We will report, however, that Dorchester is better than it is portrayed. There are worse, worse places in which to lay your head every evening. If you are thinking about making a move to someplace affordable, think about Dorchester. You won't be disappointed and you can sleep with the windows open.

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