An imposing building stands on the corner of Dudley Street and Columbia Road. Etched in granite are the words "Masonic Hall." Two stories down, the lettering inelegantly split by a flagpole, another legend is carved in another slab of granite: "Columbia Square Building." Since Senator Edward M. Kennedy passed away a more ephemeral sign printed on card stock has been been propped up in the curved, second story window of this building overlooking the intersection. It reads, "Upham's Corner. Birthplace of Senator Ted Kennedy."
I don't know if this is metaphor or documented fact. It may be a mixture of both. If literally true, it suggests that the most recently deceased Massachusetts senator breathed his first breath in Upham's Corner's neighborhood. That would be an invigorating initial taste of the freshest air in Boston, if that's the case; the kind of air that swells the lungs with promise, expectation and seabreeze mingled with a smidge of working class city smells and kitchen aromas. If this is the case, it would explain a lot about the late senator's character and inspiration.
I'm not that interested in doing the research, but if this is true, I extrapolate that Edward M. Kennedy was born at Saint Margaret's Hospital at the summit of Jones' Hill which lies directly southeast of this intersection behind the Strand Theater. There is a building up there that seems to have been built as a small, community hospital that is now operated by Caritas Christi as a "women's health center" that, because of its layout still seems to be an inpatient facility. All of this is passing-by conjecture on my part, again, without research. I know that Blessed Mother of Theresa Church used to be St. Margaret's Church and that the Sisters of St. Margaret lived in a convent nearby. I know there was a St. Margaret's Hospital, so this building on Jones' Hill seems the most likely location.
I know the Kennedy family lived on Ashmont Hill before they were associated solely with Hyannisport. Ashmont is closer to Carney Hospital, but perhaps, at the time, St. Margaret's offered better birthing facilities. All my conclusions are pure speculation and I won't bore the reader with more red herrings that lead me to this conclusion. Connecting the dots without knowing too many facts is a pasttime of mine. My local big picture grows with the more random things I learn and observe. My haphazard understanding of Dorchester becomes a more concrete, never-ending story much like the Columbia Road sidewalk. Is it fact or fancy? Like most things in Dorchester, Mass. it is somewhere in between.
Senator Kennedy certainly worked for the interests of the denizens of Upham's Corner. Whether this is because he was born there or because he felt a natural affinity, I don't know. The citizens and voters who live in this part of Dorchester, and most any other part of Boston, identified with him. Was Ted Kennedy born in Upham's Corner? I don't know for sure. All I know is that he lived here in spirit, and I sit next to the giant pear statue in Edward Everett Square, named after another great statesman, and I think of Senator Kennedy and his legacy.