Ode to Urban Artifacts: A Bear, a Brick, and a Pity Party

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Teddy bear, festival-ed-the-f**k-out © The Middle Ground, 2015

 

Is there anything more Somerville than a stray teddy bear armed with a brick, lying wasted against a concrete curb on Highland Avenue?

Disillusioned and abandoned, perhaps she is heading to the first ever Pity Party, the latest event in the city’s never-ending festival season. Described by organizers as “a funny exorcism of all that’s been getting us down,” or as the New York Post put it “Miserable Massholes throw themselves a Pity Party,” this community event features someone called Drabby the Sad Clown and a host of self-indulgently morose activities. Basically, Pity Party is the mopey, Morrissey-listening cousin of Pizza Party.*

Or maybe Miss Teddy is just festival-ed out and that’s what the brick is for.

 

* I like Morrissey. I like pizza.

Ode to Urban Artifacts: A Curious Bird

© The Middle Ground, 2015

© The Middle Ground, 2015



The winter of our discontent and the long hibernation are over.

A mysterious woman was recently spotted dragging a red wagon full of old toys and trinkets around the neighborhood. There were no children in tow. When I arrived home later that afternoon, this small urban artifact – a tagless Beanie Baby of unknown value – awaited, perfectly perched on the rock wall below. It stood there for two days, disappearing on the third just before a rainstorm moved in.

The bird, subsequently identified as “KuKu” the Cockatoo, was about 7 inches long and retired from the beanie circuit on December 23, 1999.

Perhaps KuKu’s arrival was a coincidence, perhaps a whimsical gift from a neighbor. We may never know.

I, however, remain forever wary of unsolicited treats from colorful caravans. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I’m talking to you.


Doors and Windows

Secret Garden © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Secret Garden © The Middle Ground, 2013.



European portico or Somerville stoop? Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the two.

Window © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Window © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Portal © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Portal © The Middle Ground, 2013.

A lifelong pedestrian, I am forced to roam the streets by foot or bus to get to many a destination. Walking  allows me to appreciate the hidden treasures of Somerville streets and homes that I might otherwise miss. An elaborate bird house, a hidden terrace, a dancing neighbor in the nude—all wonderful details worthy of prolonged gaze.

This of course includes architectural details such as ornate doors, stained glass windows, balusters, stone facades, swags, and other external decorative features that welcome visitors entering Somerville homes and gardens.

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Porch with all the fixings © The Middle Ground, 2013.

So, in the spirit of springtime walks and house-gazing, I’ve chosen the broader theme of doors and windows for this post. I’m also looking forward to having an excuse to check out people’s front yards during PorchFest 2013 this coming weekend!

A great way to enter a basement, © The Middle Ground, 2013.

A great way to enter a basement, © The Middle Ground, 2013.

You shall not pass. © The Middle Ground, 2013.

You shall not pass. © The Middle Ground, 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other, somewhat random, reason for this theme is an old saying of my grandfather’s that has been stuck in my head all week. “Shut the door, they’re coming through the window. Shut the window, they’re coming through the door,” he would say rather ominously before breaking into a chuckle. I always thought it was a bit strange, though not enough to actually ask him about it. I figured it was some wartime saying or anti-commie reference.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

You really shall not pass. © The Middle Ground, 2013.

You really shall not pass. © The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

Secret Garden 3, © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Secret Garden 2, © The Middle Ground, 2013.

 

After much Googling, I discovered that the old saying was, in fact, a song by the name “Shut the Door.” The version he most likely listened to was recorded by Vaudeville alums, Billy Murray and Walter Scanlan, in 1929. Though I’m still unsure of its exact contextual meaning, it seems to be a humorous radio tune on either surveillance, immigration, or just plain silly nonsense. My grandfather would have first heard it as a teenager and it’s funny to think he was still repeating it some eighty years later.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.



So enjoy these windows and doors! I’ve left the locations off the captions in case you’re in the mood for a mystery.

A few damaged tiles on an otherwise awesome roof © The Middle Ground, 2013.

A few damaged tiles on an otherwise awesome roof © The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

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© The Middle Ground, 2013.

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Stenciling below porch balusters © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Barn © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Barn © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Window © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Window © The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

Magic shed © The Middle Ground, 2013.

Magic shed © The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

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© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

© The Middle Ground, 2013.

Return to the Middle Ground: Cover Story for Scout Somerville

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Cover of the January/ February edition of Scout Somerville; photo by Michael Rose.

 

The time for excuses is over and I have thus made the obligatory 2013 resolution to return to The Middle Ground as frequently and as consistently as possible. This may only be every so often, but it will be more than twice a year, rest assured.

To kick things off, I’m including a link to my latest article for Scout Somerville (the magazine formerly known as Somerville Scout). “The New Face of Old Somerville” discusses changes to Somerville and the growing sense of  disenfranchisement among lifelong residents in the face of ongoing gentrification. It also deals with many of the issues featured on this site and includes a brief ode to the now extinct local supermarket chain, Johnnie’s Foodmaster, so please check it out.

If you live in the Somerville area, try to pick up the print version of the magazine as it features some great photography by Michael Rose and several stories of interest, including a beautifully written portrait of the Somerville poet Matt Ganem by writer Eli Jace.

Happy 2013 and cheers to a more productive future!

Oh, your house is on fire? Get off my lawn.

Is this hydrant for real? I think it is. I threw a pebble at it and it made an appropriate ding, more like a dung actually. Then I ran away. I’m not sure fencing off a hydrant is legal (especially on a dead end street), but I like the juxtaposition of white picket fence idealism and Somerville ‘no trespassing’ suspicion. © The Middle Ground, 2012

Ode to Urban Artifacts: Lawn Ornamentation

The Wesley Park Robot. A hero from the 1983 intergalactic war with Cambridge. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



Lawn Ornamentation: Visionary art or backyard junk?

In this latest installment of urban archaeology, I will document objects of intrigue found in Somerville yards. Some of these items seem to be placed with great intention, others, not so much. I will leave it to you to determine their artistic value, anthropological merit, and overall effectiveness. You may find yourself wondering, “Where are all those terribly classy stone lions I see in Somerville yards?” Have no fear, I am currently on a mission to document as many of the stone/ceramic/ gold/ lions proudly displayed in front of Somerville homes. Much has been written about the Blessed Virgin Mary statues with accompanying bathtub shelters. Now it’s time for the Somerville Lion to take his rightful place as the king of lawn ornaments, before he is extinct. Cataloguing the lions will be an ongoing and highly edifying endeavor.

In the mean time, if you know of any particularly striking lawn ornamentation, urban artifacts, or interesting backyard junk in the ville, shoot me email with its location and I will try my Somerville best to feature it in a subsequent Ode to Urban Artifacts post.

We begin with Hobo, The Stripper-Clown, friend to the Wesley Park Robot. Times are clearly tough and he has taken to the bottle. No one understands him, but his frog, Afterthought.

Hobo, The Stripper-Clown and Afterthought the Frog. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



Also in the same yard, Not-Optimus Prime, enemy to Wesley Park Robot. If you thought Not-Optimus Prime was in fact, Optimus Prime, chances are we don’t travel in the same circles.  His markings are distinctly Power Ranger-esque, so I’d have to say he’s The Power Rangers Ninja Storm dX Power Megazord Transformer. Let’s call it an educated guess. Not-Optimus is relatively new, though his compatriots have been in this yard since before 2007. Very interesting choice for a lawn ornament, especially given his proximity to The Wesley Park Robot and Hobo, The Stripper-Clown. What does it all mean?

Not-Optimus-Prime

Not-Optimus-Prime. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



As we  move uphill, just off Walnut Street, we find a Time Machine. I am pretty sure this is a time machine and not art. It may also be a torture chamber, given that it seems to have an oven door. Whatever it is, we can all agree that it’s awesome.

A Time Machine. No big deal. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



Next up, is a yard that appears to be full of crap. And yet.. there is something beautiful about the disarray of objects. It could be townie. It could be yuppie. It’s definitely part of The Middle Ground.

Yuppie art installation or Townie Junkyard? © The Middle Ground, 2012.


No Urban Artifacts post would be complete without a pile of tires (See: Ode to Urban Artifacts: The Quintessential Somerville Tire). Here we have a collection of tires of various sizes and models. I walk by this house on a weekly basis and happened to know these tires don’t see much action. There are seven tires; no more, no less. Always the seven tires, but I will let you know if anything changes…

Pile O'Tires. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


In the same yard, we find Pipe Man. It may very well be that Pipe Man collects tires. Though comprised of a few old pipes, I’d venture that Pipe Man is a sculpture. Pipe Man and I share certain physical characteristics. I’d like to think we  have chemistry and that our children would be athletes.

Pipe Man Cometh. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


You can find these next little creepers on Hall Street, off of Cherry. Despite some moderate shelter, they appear fairly weathered so I was curious as to how long they may have been living in the streets. According to an image from Google Earth, timestamped August 2007, the twins have lived outside for at least 4.5 years, although I would venture longer. Sheltered by the house’s gas meter, they resemble Hummel figurines, but with the glazed-over eyes evocative of a post-apocalyptic pastoral society. The boy holds a white dog; the girl a white cat. There is some type of deep symbolism going on here and it reminds me of the wolf cub in I, Claudius, who falls from the talons of  an eagle into the hands of a young Claudius foretelling of his future reign as protector of Rome. Yup, that’s what comes to mind.

Post-Apocalyptic Pastoral Twins. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


Now to birds. One of my favorite lawn ornaments is this fake rooster in a birdcage with accompanying twinkle lights. The cage has been here for at least three years. A few houses down, there’s a house with numerous bird cages on the porch with actual live birds. This one is clearly a booby trap for yuppies seeking farm fresh eggs. Trouble is they’re not cage-free and they come from a rooster.

Booby Trap. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


Last but not least, we have some birds of prey. Are they eagles? Hawks? A combination of two species? Impossible to be certain. In a city with an abundance of stone lions, the owners of this house made a bold choice to veer from the Somerville standard. They even had their beaks expertly painted red. Or maybe that’s just blood from a recent kill?  I think I will investigate any particular significance these birds may have in Portuguese culture (I say Portuguese because the owners also have a statue of Our Lady of Fátima and a Portuguese flag displayed to the right of the birds).

Birds of Prey. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


This edition of Ode to Urban Artifacts has come to an end. Stay tuned for future posts involving Somerville bricks, random glass bottles, gang symbols, derelict basketball hoops,  and more curious sculptures. Thanks for reading!



© The Middle Ground, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Patriot’s Day in Somerville

Paul Revere, as portrayed by one of his living relatives. What a smile! Notice the kids gathered atop the laundromat. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



Observed the third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day commemorates the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord. On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere made his historic ride toward Lexington to warn patriots of the impending arrival of British troops in that area. Revere left the North End, headed through Charlestown, and took the inconspicuous route through what is now Somerville. He then travelled through nearby Medford and Arlington. Somerville, aka Charlestown beyond the neck, served as a key crossroads during the Revolution and several of its hills provided natural fortification in battle.

Each year on Patriot’s Day, a re-enactment of Revere’s ride takes place, usually with some descendent of Revere playing the starring role. A Somervillian feeling particularly patriotic can normally intercept Revere on Broadway in Winter Hill, between 10:30- 11:15AM on the morning in question. Foss Park is the most popular of viewing locations, given its proximity to both Dunkins and the occasional slush stand if weather is permitting. (Weather was permitting today.)

Not to be outdone, my family has its own traditional Revere vantage point at the fork of Broadway and Main Street, right before Main Street changes from Somerville to Medford. There’s a little island in front of the 391 Broadway Apartment complex with a couple of tiny Revolutionary monuments (see below). This little island is across the street from T&T Ocean Liquors (formerly Paul Revere Beverage) and the Spin Cycle Laundromat. For a very long time, the laundromat was the home of the  M&S Police Supply store (short for Medford and Somerville I believe) and it had a picture of Paul Revere riding on the sign. I’m not sure if we go there because it’s a more intimate viewing experience of Revere, or simply just to be different, but my family has gathered at that spot for generations now. There are always a couple other random people there too and plenty of people sitting on their porches on Main Street.

So today, like always, my family gathered at the Broadway-Main Fork ready to see Paul. He was running a bit late, perhaps because of the unexpected heat. As a kid, I would get ridiculously giddy when I would see the flashing blue lights of the police motor brigade approaching, followed by the unfamiliar sound of horse hooves galloping on Somerville pavement. Today was no different.

Prepare Yourself. Paul is coming. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


While we were waiting, some nice old biddies slowly walked by, remarking, “I’m glad we aren’t the only ones waiting for Paul!” A few other guys drove by proclaiming, “Paul’s coming! Paul’s coming! Get ready!”.  In fact, no one really mentioned the name Revere. When Paul finally arrived, he was greeted with the enthusiasm and familiarity of an old friend who had been missed  all year. Paul’s the kind of guy Somerville wants to bump into and share an impromptu beer with. Everybody loves old Pauly. Poor Willy Dawes just can’t compete.

These people are wicked excited to see Paul. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

Close-up on Paul. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



This year’s Revere was a pro. First of all, he was sober. Not even a rosy glow despite the heat. Secondly, he actually looked a lot like his ancestor. The phrase “real deal” was definitely tossed around by onlookers. Thirdly, this Pauly  was engaging and friendly. Past Reveres have had varying degrees of composure and friendliness, with a Revere or two appearing “three sheets to the wind.” This Paul Revere briefly  stopped in front of our group to say hi to the kids and of course, to let us know that, “The Regulars are coming up!” My mom couldn’t help but respond with a simple, “Hey I think we’re gonna win!!” Paul took it in stride and gave us all a smile and wave before galloping onward through the pits of Medford. You can’t help but miss the guy as soon as he turns to leave.

One Patriot’s Day many years ago, we actually tried to follow Revere all the way up to Lexington. We thought it would be exciting stalking Revere and evading the red coats. We hopped in our old battle axe jalopy and drove through towns that progressively grew less welcoming to our automobile. Turns out, following a dude on a horse and a bunch of staties on motorcycles is not fun.  Also, no one was chasing us. You just seem crazy rolling down the windows, screaming “Kill the Brits! They’re after us!” when no one is behind you. Our historical pilgrimage ended up  being more like a really long and frustrating traffic jam.

We learned that day that although Paul Revere is a good friend to us all, he’s best viewed once a year, from a distance, for a brief 20 seconds of historical magic.

See ya next year, Paul!

Bye, Paul! © The Middle Ground, 2012.




A memorial stone placed by the Somerville Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1909. It reads: "To the Memory of Anne Adams-Tufts. Born 1729. Died 1813. A heroine of the Revolution who did active patriotic service after the Battle of Bunker Hill. This was the door-stone of her home which stood about 130 feet southwest of this spot." © The Middle Ground, 2012.




Stone marking the site of Revere's ride and the Winter Hill Fort. © The Middle Ground, 2012.



© The Middle Ground, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Easter Greetings from The Anarchy Egg

The 2012 Anarchy Egg of Somerville, © The Middle Ground, 2012.

 

On the eve of Easter each year, my family partakes in the pagan ritual known as egg coloring. My mother hard boils about three or four dozen eggs for our extremely loud and incredibly close family. Both children and adults draw on said eggs with crayons. We fight to the death over the “magic crayon,” the clear crayon that reveals secret truths upon dyeing. We fight to the death over desired colors of dye.

For the most part, we abide by standard egg coloring decorum and practice, save one minor familial invention – THE ANARCHY EGG.

Guts of The Anarchy Egg, displayed in an old creamer, © The Middle Ground, 2012.

 

I’m not sure who first thought of The Anarchy Egg or when it started, but it was definitely prior to the birth of the glorious youngest child (that would be me). As legend has it, it is but an ordinary egg born from the depths of fowl despair, doomed to fall at the hands of negligent children, and destined to rise from its outer shell of indifference, into a beast of beautiful chaos. Quite simply, it is the egg that some kid drops or breaks during the decorating process. Once we have dyed all of the perfect eggs, we combine all of the dyes into a vat, sometimes sprinkling a little of this or that to add to the holy discord. Then we place the unholy beast into a cup or vessel and stab it Somerville-style with martini swords, straws, or whatever bizarre things we can find. I’m not sure why we do this or what it says about my family, but I think we can all agree that The Anarchy Egg is an awesome Somerville invention.

Please note The Anarchy Egg is meant for worship, conversation, and anarchy. It is not meant for consumption.

Old cell phone photo of the 2008 Anarchy Egg, © The Middle Ground, 2012.

 

© The Middle Ground, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Remembering Deanna Cremin


Today marks the seventeenth anniversary of the murder of Deanna Cremin. On the morning of March 30, 1995, seventeen-year-old Deanna Cremin’s body was discovered a few blocks from her Somerville home. Her murderer strangled her, then proceeded to dump her body behind a building in a nearby alley off of Jaques Street. While most Somervillians who remember the case have their own theories,  the crime remains unsolved. Unlike most of the tales I post, this is a sad one, but one that must be told. There can’t always be a middle ground. Deanna Cremin was my cousin. She was beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, a cat lover, and fierce. While the rest of my extended family lived in the suburbs, my mom and my uncle brought their kids up in their hometown. The year before her death, my siblings, Deanna, and myself, all worked on a puppet film for Somerville Community Access Television. It was so much fun. Deanna was both a badass and puppet master – no easy feat. Even though she was a teenager and I was her younger cousin, Deanna never treated me like an annoying little kid or excluded me. She would tell me I was wicked smart and funny. She helped me fix my hair into one of those 1990 high buns on the top of my head. I remember this one occasion when we were working on some project at S.C.A.T.  (hilarious acronym), a music video for K.D. Lang randomly appeared on several of the station monitors. Everyone was confused, but I simply said, “Oh, Constant Craving!! I love this song.” I remember Deanna cracking up for the rest of the night because I knew the name of the song. I love that even when I was being weird, Deanna still liked me. Again, no easy feat.

Deanna and my Uncle Mike


It’s scary to think that so much time has elapsed since her death. Time is the great confuser and we are ever its slaves. Each year that passes, our memories change, blurring events and creating voids. I have never forgotten Deanna and I never want to. I think that’s why I force myself to remember both the beautiful and painful moments I associate with her life and death. Sure, we tell our own versions of events, but it’s better to preserve our versions and perceptions then to let them fall by the wayside. Anytime someone is murdered it impacts the way we remember that person. Moreover, when a murder remains unsolved, there is no resolution or solace. Perhaps it keeps our memories all the more vivid? I’m not really sure.

So today, on the anniversary of her death, I revisited these memories by taking a pilgrimage around Somerville to many of the places I associate with my cousin, Deanna.  Though the landscape has changed,  many of the places still triggered memories, emotions, and past perceptions. I took a photo of each location and tried to let my memories emerge as they would.

S.C.A.T (Somerville Community Access Television) Headquarters, Union Square. My two older sisters wrote, produced, filmed, and created all the puppets for their first puppet film, “The Lost Sock.” Deanna was the star of the film and the one human amongst all the puppets. My brother and I were the puppeteers, along with one of Deanna’s best friends. © The Middle Ground, 2012

The convenience store near S.C.A.T where we would buy chips and candy on our breaks from filming “The Lost Sock.” I think it had a different name back in the day. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


My memories of working with Deanna at S.C.A.T. are entirely joyous and make me miss her a lot. Venturing to her old Winter Hill neighborhood also brought back several happy memories, but the location is also synonymous with her death.

Deanna’s street. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

Deanna’s home on Jaques Street. It looks completely different now and has new owners, but it brings back a lot of memories. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

The old Star Market site. Deanna worked there part-time at the time of her death. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


The last time I ever saw Deanna alive was earlier the same week she died. I think it was one or two days before, but I can’t be sure. She was in front of City Hall/ Somerville High. She was with friends and she was smoking a cigarette, like all of the other kids in front of Somerville High (those were the times!). My mom was driving us somewhere and I waved at Deanna, but she didn’t see me.

The bus stop at the corner of Highland and School Streets. This was the last place I saw my cousin alive. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

This is the former Broadway home of Tommy LeBlanc, Deanna’s boyfriend at the time of her death. She spent her last few hours alive here. Some time after 10pm she called a girlfriend and also called her mother to say she would be home after she finished the show she was watching with Tommy. According to Tommy, he walked her halfway home after the show and they parted somewhere on Jaques Street just after 11pm on March 29th. No one ever saw her alive again. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


Deanna’s body was discovered behind an elderly housing complex at the other end of Jaques Street the next morning. There was an alley behind the building that people would use to get to the old Healey School and also to the Mystic Projects. Two children Deanna had babysat discovered her body along the fence in the alley as they walked to school.

The Housing Complex on Jaques Street.© The Middle Ground, 2012.

The Jaques Street entrance to the alley. In order to reach the site, you have to follow this path to the rear of the building. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

This is where Deanna’s body was found. Her body was placed next to the tree in front of the fence, in the shaded area. It just so happens that the building’s shadow this time of day outlines the area she was found. The Mystic Projects are behind the fence down below. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

View of the alley from the opposite angle. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


As I walked through the alley, I found a small dish of dry cat food (I know cat food) and a dish of water. There are no other remnants, markers, or memorials in the alley. I think it’s quite fitting that someone feeds a stray cat here because Deanna loved cats so much. Like me, she was obsessed with all things kitty. It sounds weird, but I think she would be happy knowing a kitty visits the spot every night.

Cat food and water for a stray cat in the alley. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

Deanna and one of her beloved kitties.

Visiting the alley was obviously the most difficult part of the pilgrimage today. Some places carry an aura of past events, and this is one of those places. Seeing it brings it all back. I forced myself to let it in. Here is what I remember from March 30, 1995: I am ten years old. My older brother and I wake up for school around 7AM. One of my older sisters is getting us dressed in our uniforms (we go to St. Anthony School in Somerville) and ready for school. Someone calls the house, I think it’s my Uncle Mike saying Deanna is missing. She didn’t come home last night. I wonder where she is. Maybe she is in trouble, but everyone seems more worried than angry. Uncle Mike is looking for my mom, but she’s not home yet because she had the night shift. Right before we leave for school, my mom’s other brother calls, also looking for my mom. My uncle tells my sister he was listening to the radio and heard that a body was found in Somerville. There is no way that some random body in an alley could be my cousin, Deanna. Everyone is looking for my mom because she is the problem-solver. Why isn’t my mother back yet? She will find Deanna. I really don’t want to go to school. Now that my sister has us ready for school, my other sister walks us down Somerville Ave to St. Anthony’s. It’s some time around 8AM. My brother goes to the seventh grade classroom and I go to my fourth grade class. I distinctly remember feeling anxious and nervous. I figure my mom must be home and maybe she’s already found Deanna at some friend’s house? It’s still morning because we haven’t had lunch or recess yet. I am just sitting in class waiting for something. An eighth grader comes to my class and hands my teacher a note. My teacher tells the neighboring second grade teacher to look in on us and then she leaves. I have the feeling that something is happening. A little while later my teacher comes back and calls me to her desk. I need to gather my belongings and head to the principal’s office. I know without a doubt that the body on the radio is Deanna. My teacher takes me to Sister Margaret’s office where my brother is waiting for me. He looks like something bad has happened, but he is not crying. I’m not sure whether it was my brother, Sister Margaret, or my teacher that tells me Deanna is dead. I remember starting to cry, but I don’t fully break down. That doesn’t happen for a few days. Someone picks us up from school, I think by foot. I can’t really remember, but maybe it was my oldest brother. My mom is gone when we get home. She has to identify the body. I don’t think I see my mom the first 48 hours after Deanna is found. I don’t really understand how Deanna could be dead. I had just seen her that week at the bus stop in front of Somerville High. Before the 30th is over, I am told that Deanna didn’t just die, but that someone murdered her. At some point in those first two days, I am in a room with my six-year-old cousin, Deanna’s brother, and he keeps asking why she won’t come home. He just wants her to come home.

The site of the now closed Cataldo Funeral Home on Broadway. This is where Deanna’s wake was held and it was surely one of the most well-attended wakes in Somerville history. Even though my cousin had been murdered, my family elected to have an open casket to both bring awareness to the crime and to allow people the opportunity to say goodbye. It was definitely the worst day for me emotionally. Also, for some reason, the missing Cataldo sign makes me sad.

St. Polycarp Church (also closed) next to the Mystic Housing Projects. This is where the funeral was held. The church was crowded and it was such a hot day that one of my in-law uncles fainted from heat exhaustion. My mother and her siblings had all attended the old St. Polycarp School when they had lived in the Projects as kids. © The Middle Ground, 2012.


I don’t remember anything else about the first 48 hours. Everything that follows: the wake, the funeral, the investigation, etc. is etched in my memory though, but today I am most reminded of that first morning. Even though I was just a kid when Deanna was murdered, I can honestly say that the event significantly impacted the course of my life. All too often, adults don’t give children enough credit for being complicated little individuals capable of introspection. Sometimes I think I find myself in the Somerville Middle Ground because of everything that followed Deanna’s death, but that’s a tale for another day. Finally, I must admit this post was difficult for me to write and entirely out of my comfort zone. I really appreciate everyone reading it.

Deanna Cremin Square at the corner of Temple and Jaques Streets. © The Middle Ground, 2012.

© The Middle Ground, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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