Many Everett folks from all walks of life who have lived in the city for the past decade or longer, have very firm ideas about the condition of the city.
Many say the city is worse off than it was ten years ago.
They complain it is more crowded, more difficult to park and drive around, and more dangerous.
Many more say it was better in the old days, when life was more predictable than it is today, when everyone’s memory point to the entire population paying attention to the law and following rules and regulations and watching out for each other.
Many say Everett is better than it was ten years ago – and they point to all the new real estate development and improvements that have been made. All the parks have been redone. New schools have been built. Road and drainage problems have nearly been erased. The city is clean and orderly.
Each successive generation of people living here and across the nation believe their generation was better than the one that came before.
It is known for a fact all generations are essentially the same – a bit like the tide coming in and the tide going out, the seas rising and the seas falling, the tides and the seas are eternal.
During the past ten years the school population has exploded and is continuing to expand.
The new schools are overcrowded. The teaching institution is taxed to the point of breaking. The school population is diverse, poor, struggling, and most of our public school students cannot read or write with ease and understanding in English or in their native languages.
In 1901, the Everett Republican Committee nominated Arthur E. Jordan for one of the three seats on the Common Council in Ward Five. At the time, the GOP nomination ensured election and Mr. Jordan was indeed elected. At its core, that doesn’t sound like much of a story and judging from newspaper accounts, it wasn’t. Except for a brief mention in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Post, the story did not generate much interest. The lack of publicity that the story generated led to a decades-long inaccuracy in Everett History. For years, it was widely believed that Robert Smith of Woodville Street was the first African-American elected to the Everett City Council in 1929. It turns out that it was Arthur E. Jordan in 1901.
There is a saying that “If you worry about who gets the credit, nothing will ever get done”. Rev. Dr. Albert R. Sampson has taken that motto almost to an extreme. While those “who were there” certainly recognize his role in the struggle for civil rights, history continues to slight his influence.
Al Sampson grew up across the street from Baldwin Avenue Park. When his mother was “violated” by a doctor in Melrose, his family fell apart and he was sent to live with his mother’s brother Paul and his wife Mildred at 13 Baldwin Avenue.
The Baldwin Avenue Park area was a close-knit area filled with memories that still resonate with the people who grew up there. Eighty-year old Stanley Ruggiero (Valley Street) still remembers the day that his father Frank bought a two-wheeled bike for him from the Pearsons (Baldwin Avenue) and no one can forget Frank’s not-so-secret Sunday morning bar in the cellar of their brick three- family house. Folks who grew up in that area still refer to the streets divided by Main Street as Upper and Lower Baldwin, Winslow and Clark Streets.
Lee G. Johnson grew up in what would eventually become a single-parent household in the Cherry Street projects. With very little to call their own, Lee’s mother Geraldine would remind him and his brother George to be grateful for what they had and to use it to the best of their ability.
Lee took his mother’s advice to heart. While she worked at various jobs to support the family including at the state Commission on Indian Affairs, Lee and his brother would play sports and all the other games that the project kids enjoyed. At Everett High School, Lee was a good student but truly excelled on the basketball court. Lee was named All-Scholastic, All-State and All-New England for his exploits on the court but he knew that his future was not in the NBA but elsewhere. He attended a junior college before attending UMass.