Growing up in Boston, I was surrounded by women of courage, strength, fists they weren’t afraid to use, and many times a lot of dirty words shouted out over coffee or cigarettes.
These were the women of Boston proper, and they weren’t really to be messed with.
I have aunts to this day I would not want to tangle with in a scuffle, and they live in nursing homes.
Maybe I’m just waxing poetic, but I don’t see a huge amount of women being taken advantage of in Boston like we see across the country – most tragically – in other locales. And don’t believe for a second it’s because men are better behaved here. Sure, there may be some guys who are of the crunchy, all is equal variety, but the board rooms and decision makers are every bit as akin to locker room behavior as President Trump.
Perhaps in Boston the men have been scared straight.
At most of the public meetings I attended as a young man, it was always the women who stood up first to disparage some poor developer from Cambridge or Sudbury.
“This plan sucks!” I can recall my aunt standing up and yelling. “Where’s the pahkin’?”
The men in the room were frequently standing up for union jobs or organizing some sort of political pressure, but I recall the women of Boston being the leaders when it came to needing some public arm-twisting.
And maybe that’s what makes us different.
Try something untoward and a Boston-bred woman might give a quick kick in the Netherlands – job or no job.
One of my favorite stories is about my friend’s mother many years ago when the schools were divided racially and strife in education was everywhere. My buddy was a very smart young boy who happened to be black in a time when even teachers were being contentious.
His mother was a single-mom, as his dad had died in a construction accident. She was a firebrand, took nothing from no one – but didn’t turn on the heat unless totally necessary.
No one wanted to cross her.
On one particular day, a teacher at the school was giving my buddy a real hard time after school – and it was quite obviously a white adult exacting their racial frustrations on a little boy who simply got too many math problem right.
It wasn’t fair.
But my buddy’s mom didn’t storm in. She took it all in.
Then she went in the back door of the classroom and came up behind the teacher quietly – just as the teacher launched into a tirade on her boy.
Few have ever seen an umbreller and left hook work in tandem that fast and that effective.
But the teacher was caught; the message was sent.
My friend’s mother calmly thanked the teacher for her time as she walked out the door.
In those days, you didn’t need a cell phone video to go viral.
These Boston women of old were legendary simply by reputation alone.