My grandfather had a small magnifying glass on his desk in his den; I spent hours looking at these two photographs with it, scanning the house windows for faces of my ancestors. I knew they were there – my great-grandparents, my grandfather himself and his sister and four brothers, his Aunt Ethel and his grandmother, Roxanna Sabin – they all lived here in this wonderful house.
The place is enormous. It had to be, with all those people living there – ten of them; if you add the ever-present domestic help, there were usually twelve residents, and they all appear in various census records.
My great-grandfather, John Allen Gould III, was born in 1852; he married Frances Taylor Sabin on September 10, 1884, and they purchased this house at
(just outside )
shortly thereafter. Boston
My grandfather was born in this house in 1887; he was the first of John and Frances’ six children; he remembered lying in bed on Sunday mornings while Kate, the Gould family cook, poked fresh doughnuts up through the heating grate in the bedroom he shared with one of his brothers (one of the rooms on the second floor of the back of the house).
He also remembered playing hockey in the dining room with his brothers – my great-grandmother would have the boys move the furniture out of the dining room and play hockey in there on rainy days – they used the fireplace for a goal; four of her five sons played hockey for MIT in the early 1900s!
With five sons and a daughter, the Gould household was a busy place. The housework alone was staggering. Just think: laundry for twelve, before washing machines and dryers; cooking for the Goulds and all their friends (not to mention cleaning up afterwards...the dishes, the dishes!); cleaning, shopping, sewing, mending, etc.
My father remembered being in this house when he was a boy; he dreaded the climb up the long stairs to bestow the obligatory kiss on his great-grandmother’s cheek (Roxanna Sabin was “older than Methuselah,” he told me; “and kissing her was like kissing an old deflated football”) but loved sitting on the front porch, or playing out back in the coolness of the shade trees that surrounded the circular drive or in the carriage house (just visible on the right in the bottom photo).
The house is still there, still standing, although it’s now chopped up into apartments and surrounded by cheap houses built in the 1950s.
Street is now US Route 9; the road has expanded
dramatically; the stairway you see in the photo is gone – the road runs right
up against the side of the house.
I can’t drive by without weeping.