From the Archives: “La Montagnella” — A Memoir by Anthony Manconi, “The Woodchipper”


by Anthony Manconi
Contributing Columnist

In the desert area of California, there is an Oasis. It is called “Palm Springs”. It is known throughout this country and the world as a rich man’s playground. A place that is reserved for the affluent in the business world and the stars of the movie industry. Where the pressure to compete is temporarily relaxed and a few days of rest are enjoyed. East Boston also had an Oasis. It was not as luxurious as Palm Springs but it served the same purpose. It was called Wood Island Park, but was generally known as “La Montangella” (the little mountain).

There were no reservations needed, neither were there any restriction as to your station in life. Your personal financial status was of no concern to anyone. Everyone was welcome to come, enjoy and relax in God’s little green acres. My family, along with others of East Boston, were there Sunday after Sunday all summer long. I sometimes think a plaque should have been placed at the entrance of the park reading, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe in the invigorating air of freedom from the daily worries of life.”

No matter how early we arrived, some families would be already there setting up camp for a day of swimming, baseball and bocci for those athletically inclined. The older women would just talk and relax, being there for them was a tonic, an elixir, a rejuvenator after a week of cooking, washing and ironing.

“La Montagnella” is gone, sacrificed on the alter of questionable progress. Gone also it seems to me are the carefree days of families, meeting and sharing each other’s food, probelms and burdens of life. Gone also is the friendliness, comraderie and brotherhood. Today, the modern day philosophy is to take care of “Numero Uno,” excluding all others. I will never forget a part of East Boston called “La Montagnella”, where a group of families became as if by magic, One Big Family. It was a place where no person thought of himself or herself as “Numero Uno” but rather as a brother or sister in the human family of the world.

Anthony Manconi. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the author.