Voices of Boston: Louise and Miss Ives discuss education and innovation in Roslindale
By Colleen Nugent
As part of the Boston 200 celebration in the 1970s, various volunteers provided oral histories to highlight the local neighborhood stories of Boston. These provide a unique perspective on life in Boston during the 20th century. Interviews with “Miss Ives” and Louise Goodsill lend a personal touch to the history of Roslindale, discussing education and the changes brought about by new innovations.
Roslindale is a residential neighborhood of Boston, sharing borders with Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, West Roxbury, and Mattapan. After the railroad was built in the late 19th century, the population of Roslindale began to grow. The residential population really started to grow in the 1880s and 1890s, which is when Louise’s father first came to Roslindale!
Louise Goodsill gave an oral history interview reflecting on her life as a Roslindale resident. She remembers her father, a German migrant who arrived in Boston in the 1890s, after traveling around Europe and North America. He spent time in Montreal, but even Canada did not feel as cold as Boston. Louise remembers he had no underwear until he got to Boston!
Her father moved to Boston, and quickly claimed it as his home. For him, living in Boston from the early 1890s through the 1930s, the United States was a dream country, Nothing would change his mind. Even the gang problems of his time did not lessen his patriotism.
Louise’s father saw dramatic change living through the turn of the century in Boston. However when it came to economics, he did not believe the Great Depression was unique. For him, economic depressions were simply part of the American experience.
Louise was born around 1900, and remembers her childhood. She witnessed the evolution from horse and buggy travel to the introduction of cars. During this time, even fire trucks would be horse-drawn. Louise remembers seeing one as a child during school.
The Phineas Bates School was one of the schools operating at this time in Roslindale. The Bates School is still an operating Boston Public School.
Louise grew up attending the Phineas Bates School. While Louise attended the Bates, Miss Ives, another oral history interviewee, was a long-term teacher at the Longfellow School, another school in Roslindale. She grew up in Roslindale, attending kindergarten in 1888. When she gave her interview in the 1970s, she had lived in Roslindale for 86 years! She reflects on the first cars to come to Roslindale, and how the difficulties caused by the old dirt roads.
When driving the roads of Boston, it is easy to wonder who designed them. As Louise recalls in Roslindale, many roads just followed the paths already created by the cows. Louise believed that, for some streets at least, the wanderings of cows determined their direction.
Miss Ives attended the Longfellow School as a child. She then returned to teach at the school for many years. She claims her career as a teacher spanned 50 years.
When Miss Ives started teaching at the Longfellow in the 1910s, it was a collection of small buildings with no water and no electricity. She remembers having to cart water from the main building to her classroom for painting lessons. The lack of electricity and water was especially difficult in Boston’s cold winters.
Miss Ives felt incredibly attached to her students, and remembers some of the highlights, both good and bad. Likewise, although Louise did not attend Longfellow, she also remembers her Roslindale school experiences, and especially her teachers, with a fondness.
These are just a sample of the fascinating interviews in the City’s oral history collection. Want to learn more?
This post was written by Colleen Nugent. She is a History PhD student at Northeastern University, with certificates in Digital Humanities, Public History, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. You can follow her at colleenlnugent.com.