| Ellen H. Richards School (Elementary)
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80 Beaumont Street, Dorchester
William H. Besaric, Architect
Ellen H. Richards was the first female graduate of the Massachusetts of Technology. She was an engineer and an instructor of sanitary chemistry at M.I.T. Richards was active in the formation of the women's suffrage movement in the U.S.
The building was converted to residential condominiums, probably in the 1980s.
What's In a Name? Names of Boston's Schools: Their Origin. Boston: School Volunteers for Boston and the Boston Public Schools, 1980.
From: Ruth M. Johnson Dean
I ATTENDED THE "ELLIE", AS WE CALLED IT FROM 1948 - 1954, BEGINNING IN THE FIRST GRADE UNTIL THE END OF THE SIXTH GRADE. MY MOTHER ALSO ATTENDED THE SCHOOL AND IN FACT, I HAD TWO OF THE TEACHERS SHE HAD. I COULD PROVIDE MANY STORIES REGARDING MY YEARS THERE. THE TEACHERS WERE VERY GOOD AND MADE YOU LEARN WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANTED TO.
I CAN ALMOST SMELL THE HALLWAYS AND FEEL THE FLOORS CREAKING IN MY MEMORIES AS WE CAME IN FROM RECESS TO GO BACK TO OUR CLASSES.
FROM THE SEWING CLASSES WITH ONLY ONE ELECTRIC MACHINE IN THE ROOM AND THE REST PEDAL MACHINES, TO THE DANCE LESSONS IN THE BASEMENT NEAR THE NOISY BOILER ROOM, WITH SHY CHILDREN LEARNING TO SOCIALIZE, THE EDUCATION WE WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO EXPERIENCE BRINGS A SMILE TO MY FACE EVEN NOW.
I CAN REMEMBER THE NAME OF EVERY TEACHER THERE AND HOW THEY TAUGHT ME WITH SUCH DEDICATION.
I REMEMBER THE SADNESS AND MIXED FEELINGS THAT I AND MY CLASSMATES FELT WHEN WE WALKED OUT OF THE DOOR ON THAT FINAL DAY IN ANTICIPATION OF JUNIOR HIGH.
I BELIEVE THAT I COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES DURING THOSE SPECIAL YEARS IN MY LIFE.
THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES
Thank you for allowing me to take this trip down Memory Lane. As I mentioned before, I have fond memories of my childhood in Dorchester.
Here are some of the things I learned in school:
Grade 1 was Ms. McGill. She taught me how to read, using Dick & Jane books. I remember that if you did well, you were able to read from a large book standing at the back of the room. That was quite a thrill. I also remember drawing circles, using the top of an old milk bottle label to draw lines in and print words. We also played with wooden pegs and made many artistic designs. I also remember the teacher reading a passage from the bible each morning and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The girls wore dresses with matching socks and hankies. We had to get up at the front of the room by colors. There was a song "Good Morning Little Yellow, Pink, Blue or whatever color you had on bird, How are you? We also learned the Little Teapot Song, which I think everyone remembers the words.
That year the children talked about the Rocking Horse they rode in Kindergarten. Each time I passed the room I would stare at it longingly, having missed this treat by not attending Kindergarten. Somehow this msg. got to the teachers and one day they said that they had a surprise for me. They took me in and lifted me on the Rocking Horse and let me have a very wonderful ride. I was so happy that day. I never forgot it and I guess I never will.
Grade 2 was Ms. Coleman. She was eccentric, I believe. She used to send the kids out to the store for candy during the day. She also used to change her dress in the coat room every day. One day I was working on a paper and she came to my desk. She said to me "You don't have to do that if you don't want to". I immediately put my paper away. Another time she had a play, in which I was the star, Suzy. It was about a little girl named Suzy, who had a lot of dolls and toys. I wound things up and made my dolls come to life. I was a little shy then, but I think that play gave me some confidence. The parents came to see the play. One time she grabbed a boy named Michael and held him against the blackboard, pratically choking him. He had a whistle and she took it away from him and threw it out the window into the school yard. He retrieved it at recess. In spite of her behavior, I think that I learned a lot in her class. Many years later, I saw her at a wedding of one of my friend's older sister. I was totally surprised to see her. Never figured out what the connection to the family was. Perhaps the bride had been a former student.
Grade 3 was Mrs. Baxter. She was a very strict teacher. It was the year that we were drilled on our times tables. I had an Appendectomy that year and was out of school for a while. Had difficulty mastering the tables, but eventually learned them. I remember being very nervous in her class.
Grade 4 was Ms. Augusta. This teacher was so mild and kind. I learned a lot from her. She used to have a Baseball spelling bee. When you would spell a word correctly, she would move you on to 2nd base, etc. I think that because of this teacher, I became a good speller. We used to add endless columns of figures, (no electronic assistance then). Some years before that, my Mother was also a student of hers.
Grade 5 was Miss Evelyn V. Drew. Miss Drew was a determined teacher. My Mother was also one of her students. She set up a Group of 40 in number, beginning with short division and ending with long division. Everyone had to finish all 40 groups by the end of the school year or else! She used to bring children up to her desk and actually make them cry until they understood the math. It was very unsettling for most of us. She had a system for organizing our desks, which included a cigar box in the center for our pencils, crayons, etc. and she would have regular inspections. I found myself recently organizing a vanity drawer in this manner, minus the cigar box. I was in luck, finding a cigar box, as my Grandfather smoked cigars and was able to provide me with the needed box. She gave us Spelling tests every Friday and had a space for Conduct & Effort marks, which we had to bring home to be signed. We used to read out loud in class and when she was busy, she had us sit in front of the class and call on people to read.
When I was much older, I met her in Boston one day and still felt somewhat intimidated by her. I was a teenager at the time. She was very pleasant and seemed glad to see me. She did recognize me.
Grade 6 was Ms. Chambers. Ms. Chambers didn't seem to have the same control as other teachers. The boys especially were disruptive. I remember that one day she threw a piece of chalk into a boy's mouth because he wouldn't keep it closed.
I remember that she would gather with several other teachers in the morning. They would make me stand up and turn around so that they could see what I had on that day. My Grandmother raised me and dressed me like I was going to a Birthday Party every day. It was embarrassing to me. She was a good teacher, but she favored the brightest ones in the class. I didn't feel confident in her class, as I had in the previous years. Somehow I survived and left for Junior High.
We had Squash games in the schoolyard. We made dresses in sewing classes, which we wore in the dancing show we performed also in the schoolyard. We learned to dance in the school basement.
We had to form lines according to height, when the bell rang. There was a painted line for each grade, where we stood until we were instructed to file back into school either after morning or afternoon recess.
Overall, I believe that my experiences at the "Ellie" prepared me for the future in a positive way.
On Saturday mornings, I and my friends would go roller skating at Riverview, which was located in the Neponset area. They used to have BallRoom dancing in the evenings at that time. The SouthEast Expressway was built over the site eventually. In the afternoon, we would all go to the Adams Theater. Admission was $.20 and most candy was $.05 and Popcorn $.15 Years later, I went on dates at that same theater. I believe it was converted to some sort of housing later on.
From the theater, we would go down to St. Brendan's Church on Gallivan Blvd. to go to confession. We had to prepare for the 9:00 A.M. Mass with Sunday School Class to follow. The only name I can remember was Sister Gordianna. I received a diploma from Sunday School and that year, I was the May Queen and crowned the Blessed Mother in the May Procession. I had been in the Processions every year and always wanted to be the one to crown. It was a special honor for me.
On Saturday evenings I always visited my Great Grandmother in South Boston, where all of my cousins would congregate. I had some happy times with them.
When I got a little older I started going to Record Hops at B.C. High and later at Holy Name Church Hall in West Roxbury.
My first real crush was Eddie Munroe. He asked me to marry him when we were 5 years old. He came to see me after I had my Appendectomy at my home with his Father and brought me ice cream. He sat in front of me in 6th grade and always turned around to stare at me. At that point, I had a crush on a boy named Kevin, who sat beside me to my left.
I saw Eddie years later at a Record Hop and he asked me to dance. He used to live near me and his family moved away and the last time I saw him was at the dance. I often wondered whatever happened to him. He had Asthma and was not well growing up. I was close to his family and played with his sister who was a little bit younger than me. Sometimes his Mother used to drive me to church and school. She and Eddie's Father were very nice to me.
Years later, I babysat for a family who owned the house the Munroe's used to own. It was strange to be there, remembering my childhood moments there.
I lived in a neighborhood with lots of children. We used to play jump rope and many other games. I remember going to the library in summer and sitting quietly reading if it was too hot to do anything else. On Fridays, we would all go to the Adams fish market to buy fish for dinner. In those days, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays. One of our friends' Father, Mr. Martin, used to own the fish market. We would also go to Charlie Adams to pay utility bills, with strict instructions not to lose the receipts. We would take shirts to the Chinese Laundry and used to feel bad for the people on hot summer days, ironing all day in such heat.
I had a little dog, named Bozo and he was a Spitz & Collie. I used to ride him all around my neighborhood in the basket of my bike and he loved it. I remember going Ice Skating at Dorchester Park. They would freeze it over every winter and it was so much fun.
To conclude, I did have a wonderful friend who I went all through school until graduation from high school. We remained friends always until her death at 47 years old. She had Lou Gehrig's disease. She was a beautiful and talented person and was like a sister to me. She was very talented, taught school, including in Panama for 3 years. She played the piano beautifully and enjoyed art. I would have been her friend even to this day and will always carry her memory in my heart. I do have a friend now living in California, who I met in the 7th Grade and graduated from high school with her also. We still keep in touch and saw each other a few years ago, when her daughter was attending college in Boston.
People grow and change and move away and we all become busy. I hope that I didn't go over the top with my information, but I thoroughly enjoyed recounting these moments in my life.
I am fortunate to have a lovely daughter, son and daughter in law. I hope to be a Grandmother some day. Perhaps I can add to my happy moments expressed here. I have had sad times during my life, but have learned not to dwell on them. At least I try!
Thank you for giving me the chance to express myself.
From: Bob Johnson
Wow! I found this site by accident. I went to the Richards school only in 1957 - June of 1959. after that we moved to Weymouth. We lived on the second floor of my grandfather's house at 64 Van Winkle Street.
I was shocked to see the kindergarten rocking horse remembered by others. I remember getting in trouble for pulling another kid off of it. Kindergarten was the only time I was ever in the same school with my brother Bill because he was six years older and so was in the sixth grade for my 6 months ( I think ) in kindergarten.
Oh, God! I just realized that this was written by my sister Ruthie! She mentioned Bozo and I said "wait a minute, MY dog was Bozo!"
Anyway, my first grade teacher was Miss Cummings, but I can't remember the kindergarten teacher.
Moving on, some of my friends were Steven Gerard, who I hit in the chest with a rock one time and got chased all aroungd the neighborhood by a mob ( of 5-6 year-olds ) until I found my brother's gang who protected me.
Another friend was John Clark and a few others I can no longer remember.
One last thing that I remember about Richards was during the Summer, they had one day when they would throw tons of Hoodsies out one of the school windows and we all walked home carrying them in our tee shirts held out.
We moved away 50 years ago this month.
Many years later I was at a party in Weymouth and met a woman who was from the old neighborhood who knew many of the old gang who were still there at that time, which was about 20 years ago.
Bob Johnson, Halifax, MA
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Created: March 7, 2004 Modified: September 16, 2009