November 26, 2007
MarkBernstein.org
 

Alongside

A wonderful little collection of notes about growing up in Boston between 1820-1840. Dall can write; this set of anecdotes is meant to correct some impressions left by another 1900 memoir, but it stands cheerfully on its own.

There used to be a fort on Boston Common; it was where the girls played. (Kids were always kids; the boys were sent to their own corner, thank you much.) It was a comfort zone; later, at least one battered wife stowed her portable belongings in the old play fort while she cast around for shelter for her infant and herself.

"No one born after the Civil War has seen a lobster!", Dall writes; lobsters back then were big, and businessmen would stop one the way back from the office and choose a lobster for the family dinner.

Delightfully detailed, this curious bundle of cheer was reprinted by Arno in 1980 and should not be difficult to find.