By Sal Giarratani
My niece Danikka’s deceased father-in-law was a member of the Greatest Generation. Shortly after Pearl Harbor he and his two brothers all enlisted in the US Army out of Boston’s South End, where they were born and raised.
This past Sunday I sat down with my nephew George who always calls me Uncle Sal after a great dinner. We had spoken about his dad before but I thought since Veterans Day was coming up, his dad’s story was very timely.
George is named after his dad who grew up over by Shawmut Avenue in the South End. His parents owned the Franklin Café, which is still in existence to this day.
The Moses family had three sons David, Jim along with the youngest George who had been attending MIT on a full scholarship when World War II broke out. George lied about his age. He was only 16 and a half and pretended to be 18 years old (He had been accepted into MIT at 16). The Moses family was Lebanese Catholic. The South End has always had a fairly large Lebanese and Syrian community — more on this demographic in a second.
Getting back to Sgt. George Moses, he ended up in Hawaii for World War II duty working with the Army Engineer Corps and being of Lebanese stock he soon earned the nickname “Blackie” as his dark complexion grew darker in the Hawaiian sun.
The Moses family was lucky as the three sons came home from war. When George returned, he could go back to MIT but he decided to give up MIT to help his aging parents run the Franklin Café. Eventually, the family moved to the Milton – Hyde Park line by Fairmount Avenue.
I asked my nephew how his parents met and it too was a South End story. They met in 1957 and dated for 10 years before they finally married in 1967. While his dad was Lebanese Catholic, the love of his life Yvonne Sahyoun a neighborhood girl was Syrian Orthodox and back then such a mixed marriage would have been complicated. Luckily both sides of this marriage decided dating for 10 years was ridiculous and both sides gave permission.
George and Yvonne Moses have two sons, my nephew George and his younger brother Jin. George. His family lives in Roslindale while Jimmy and his family and now Yvonne live in Westwood.
George Moses, WWII hero passed away in 2008 shortly before his 84th birthday and leaves a large family who cherishes his memory and his example. Today, he has five grandchildren who will be told of the greatness of their grandfather and all he did for his family.
There are no monuments named after him. He is one of those special heroes whose monument is built in the memories of those who loved him and who remember the life he lived.
By the way the Franklin Café still existed on Shawmut Avenue. The old name was restored to this great piece of South End history.