When I was in nursing school in Boston in the 70’s, the city was a scary, dangerous place. We had to take a self-defense course before going out to our clinical rotations in Chelsea and Charlestown. We had to walk in groups in South Boston for safety reasons. Now, hardly anyone can afford to live in these upscale, trendy locations. What a difference forty years can make.
My son recently started a business in Everett in an old rubber factory. There had been a fire and the building was a wreck. The wooden beams and ceiling were charred, the windows broken, and the machinery destroyed in huge heaps of mangled mess. Having looked everywhere in greater Boston for something he could afford, this building, (which only needed a year of renovation) called to him. In my years in Boston, I don’t think I ever even went to Everett. Having never been there, I judged it as a run-down, crime-ridden slum.
I’m sorry Everett for having doubted you. The business, (Short Path Distillery) is up and running and the city has welcomed them with open arms. As many urban locales find ways to renew themselves, improve their tax base, and attract business, they’ve taken different approaches. Some will consider new business if they comply with lists of requirements. Everett said, “What can we do to help?”
A distillery is zoned industrial, not commercial, so the neighborhoods have potential to be a little less than quaint. But with a Brewery behind them and other enterprises starting in abandoned buildings, the city decided to do a block party to promote the new businesses. How cool is that? So yesterday, the roads were blocked off, a huge stage was set, food trucks and vendors set up shop and the party began. I just love a block party. And I love a community event. It was a fine September day, warmer than normal, summer-like, and the lights strung across the roads made the atmosphere festive. Reggae music filled the streets, people danced, they drank beer and spirits. The lines were long for both, but people were polite and patient. I was a runner (not yet graduated to bartender) and had fun fetching and gophering. Well-behaved kids were everywhere. People were smiling, laughing, talking. There were bachelor parties and bachelorette parties. How fun!
I’m so proud of my son and his partners. It is a huge undertaking to start a business like this and seeing the response is wonderful. I was standing by the door when a fireman and policeman came in together. They were out in full force; a friendly presence. I heard one say to the other, “Wow! Look what they’ve done to this place! Last time I was here I was breaking the windows!” And another one said, “Oh, yeah, wait till you see what they did with the ceiling!” They seemed happy! Local people happy that the landmark building was resuscitated and people could socialize there and partake of an artisanal spirit! I loved it!
Fourteen hours of fun manual labor later, the party wound down; a hugely successful day full of community spirit. I packed up my belongings and a case of gin and headed for home. Three security personal offered to help carry the boxes to my car. I thought, how nice can people get around here? We walked down the empty sidewalk talking about how the event exceeded all expectations. I thought, how kind these folks are. How empty the sidewalk is. How all the cars that were parked there were now gone. Including mine. Car had been towed. Apparently I had gone out to buy lunch when the officers came in and asked everyone to move their cars. Missed that little announcement. So back to the distillery, where the mayor’s staff was now off duty and socializing. They made a few phone calls for me (so nice!), found the car and gave me directions to bail her out (so helpful!). Profuse apologies for the inconvenience (so sweet!). I haven’t had my car towed in decades. I am very careful to avoid that as I hate having to retrieve my car for zillions of dollars in the middle of the night. But even that was a pleasant experience! The officer at the police station was helpful and kind and had the paperwork all ready for me (so nice!) My son insisted on paying the $131 bail, (so sweet!). The guy at the impound was efficient and helpful and I left feeling like I wanted to give him the money. I drove home thinking about kindness, and how nice everyone was, and how they did their jobs so well. No one seemed jaded or frustrated or exhausted.
Is Everett the best kept secret in the world? My late-night drive home was peaceful. Thank you smiling nice friendly people. What a difference you make.