Alice Rapallo and Mark Alice Durant

Recorded October 26, 2006 Archived October 26, 2006 39:10 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX002021


Alice Rapallo talks about living in Boston, raising kids, and being married to an alcoholic.


  • Alice Rapallo
  • Mark Alice Durant


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00:06 Hi, my name is Mark allister and I'm 51 years old October 26th, 2006 where in Baltimore Inner Harbor and I'm with my mother Alice.

00:18 My name is Alice Marie. Rapallo. 75 years old. Today is October 25th 2006 and we're at the Baltimore Harbor and I'm here with my son mark.

00:36 Time

00:38 So I am getting all the stuff for boys that you had right right and well start with my second you grew up in East Boston. And can you talk a little bit about your parents and the neighborhood that you grew up in and the family group as well my father and mother why was the fourth of seven children will actually ate she had lost one at Forest and my father work for the MTA master of none Venture became of thiamin lives in Medford Mass till I was in the second grade then we moved to East Boston cuz that's where my father grew up my mother grew up in it.

01:26 And stay there until I got married my father work himself up from being a regular fireman to be District Chief in Boston, and he had quite a few interesting by us to go to like the Coconut Grove was one of the first fireman there and my mother was a stay-at-home mom, like all women worms in them days which grew up in a small little little house, you know, two story house.

01:56 What crowded was 9 people but we were fine. We had a good life. We never wanted for food or we never had a lot of special things, but we never wanted food. We always set up a happy house.

02:12 So could you name your siblings? My oldest brother was Fred nice mice older sister was being honest and Mike a my sister Florence and myself then that my mother had twins Robert and Roberta and my youngest sister is Noreen and your parents names were Frederick and Alice. It was your mother's maiden name.

02:36 And they were born in the United States Grand Island County Cork in County Mayo. My mother was from County Cork. My father's account email.

02:52 Anything else

02:55 Almost my mother and my father they met just my mother was walking home from a Catholic School carrying her violin case and he offered to carry it for both of them lost their fathers before we they get married both falling off a house Roofing.

03:17 And how old were they when they met well, they must have been 1918 or something like that and they married when they would like to I think they were like 22 23 years old.

03:33 So I remember hearing stories about your father, you know being the fire chief in East Boston and that during the prohibition years. I don't know if this is just rumor but he also made illegal liquor or see if I don't know who it was but I don't ever remember to my iPad step cuz I was little so I don't know but I do know I remember them talking about it, you know, it would be a funny story that he is.

04:12 And so they incriminate you your father, but was he he was it was he selling Jen now. I'm the firehouse. No repeat just used it for their own purposes.

04:29 That's what they all say.

04:32 Who knows?

04:34 So so growing up in thirties and forties and Boston, you know, I didn't mean anything to you that you were Irish Irish American was like identity. I like ethnic identity important to you than what we living in East Boston Italian people didn't like the Irish the Irish didn't want their daughters dating Italians and you had a boy is all around you but you know, that was very strict about that. It was I don't know for some reason is strict. It was a very strict bad. My mother was not she was a little more lenient about things like that, but

05:10 Outside the Irish Clan was or even dating outside. The Irish Clan was seen as something that both looked at night of the prom and what happens at. Well, do you know he's going to make a scene or anything because he was a boy. I mean, you know, I worked out fine, but did you think you were doing something wrong? You're being naughty by dating an Italian boys go with my mother. I mean, I knew my father how he felt that's why I had to talk it over with my mother and I will tell her and everything and of course she went well we'll just handle it to no. Don't worry about a thing. So my mother was all right, and I know but we had very nice neighbors that were Tana's and he was very friendly with them and stuff like that. It was just no no, I was just a thing back then.

06:10 I know but I never I never felt that way with her Irish Italian churches then parishes or everybody's food mixed up mixed up and live the life, but they did have were they were churches that was mostly Irish and they was he we've enough which case church around the corner from us than you know, just what I used to go to it when I get older and they had a talent-rich like it where was more like people that were mostly predominately Italian lived in that was in a little ways away. But you know, I was a mix

06:47 When you were young, really young, I mean, what did you have fantasies about what your life could be?

06:55 Me and my was really like better life and I had to me or could take any form was it could be career could be being a story I have been told that I would like to have been up gymnastic teacher. I always wanted to be a gym teacher teach everybody that stuff and go to college and things like that which never happened because of them days if you had money extra money, the men went to college the girls were not pushed to go to college.

07:28 But I know not always at the Santa seems like every little girl get married and have a nice life and have children.

07:36 I always would like to going to take her to gymnastics and everything. Did you ever dream about living any place else or another country or?

07:51 So you were born into the depression basically, right? Although you're pretty young so you maybe do not remember that much. But then there was World War II and then later the Korean War and your husband's my father fought in that war and when are significant like political events are cultural events that you know touched you more than any others, you know it during the course of your life.

08:26 Well when President Roosevelt died everybody, I mean I never saw so many people cry in my life. I mean, my mother was crying. My father was crying people you meet people in the street and they were crying. They just was really a very traumatic thing for everybody but not to my knowledge. I was not but I mean, I remember I remember distinctly seeing my mother and father crying on that happened to him and did you know why they were crying or to take to become talk about why they were they just thought the country news going to have if we were who we going to have any me they were secure and him and they just thought that's you know, what was going to happen to us, you know, because there were just

09:14 Working Class People, you know and life was good for them at that moment, you know and stuff like that and then of course when the Wall came it was very bad on a lot of people rationing couldn't have in a brass and stamps to buy bread. I remember standing in lines to wait for hours to buy is just a pound of butter peanut butter. No shoes just so many rations in a family and my father mother crossword give up their ration things for us to have shoes on our feet.

09:53 You know different things like that, you know that your gas that was a big problem then to

10:01 Korean War affected me more than that, why only because knowing your father and you know, we were dating before he went to the Korean War and I was thinking more about it and was more affected by it that way. I don't think I was affected too much, you know financially and things like that then and it looks I was working and working at the things like that.

10:28 Knowing that he was over there when I know how he came out. It was like when I came back from there.

10:36 Well, let's back up a little bit when we just say a little bit about a meeting Richard Durrant your husband. How did you meet him at Hampton Beach Resort? Yeah. Well, I mean it was a beach and we were up there. I was there with my two sisters were there for vacation and we met he was there with a whole bunch of guys and you know, they all everybody did. You know, I met him I actually met his friend first and he told your father about me going to meet me and that was the end of it was the friend was sweet on you or you sweet on the front and now you're just a friend we hit you no answer and I met them there in like that and then

11:26 That started it weird first impressions of him afraid of him cuz I never dated much. I was not allowed to date in high school and I just got out of high school. And that was a I'm shy at the most days and I was a little nervous with him and stuff like that. But he was a gentleman who you know was good. But more I went Sauron Lord was with him. Naturally. I hear from immediately really cute Farm.

12:01 This is actually out of left field. But what were you wearing when you met him? I was wearing shots in the top because I was on the beach and what about him?

12:10 Thoughts like bathing suit or he was not wearing he wasn't wearing pants cuz it was at night when I met him but the other fellows we met on the beach or what was your favorite outfit then do you remember?

12:32 No, I just remember favorite outfit I had in the winter. What was that? You had given me a pink Angora sweater.

12:41 And I had a

12:46 Mauve and gold velvet skirt and used to love where the two together. I don't know. So I always thought I looked great and it lets see. No, other than that. No, I don't remember anything special.

13:02 So you started dating have been dating for how long when we started dating in 1989. He went to Korean 51.

13:14 He was seeking home from career in.

13:18 And I went to snow I went to her and 50.

13:21 And he came home and 52 and you were dating exclusively when he went off. No never really has never been clear my mind. Did he finish High School? Not it right away, but he did go back and finish left and then and then he joined the Marines be likely to be sent to Korea.

13:49 And he talked about why you want to do that or why that's important sir. Just wanted to solve came about in the what was going on. He wasn't happy with, you know, the Communists and the Koreans what they were doing in the sun. I think he just wanted to join so it was and how did you feel about it?

14:10 I really didn't know him well enough then I mean and I mean I felt bad that he was going and I put it and didn't get the whole picture or what was going to happen. Like, you know that he would have it be sent over and everything. You know, I was I just never caught on to that first and I mean I was upset that he was going in because I had just met him and stuff like that. But I mean he was handsome in his uniform. So that was kind of exciting him great teeth seem to have my girlfriend see him in but I mean after that then would he not came back from

14:45 Boot camp and everything and you knew he was going over it was was said, I mean it was sad for his family is for mother and father was it was a sad time in my song was with him the night before he went away went back, but he was good about writing as much as I could and I always wrote back to him and I would send them packages and he always loved jelly beans or send them jelly beans and I know things but he never talked too much when I come home about it.

15:18 And how about when did you pay careful attention to the newspapers or to the news in terms of I did but

15:26 And I've sometimes I stopped because I was bothered by the man, you know, his poor mother would listen to the radio constantly and I'll kiss it wasn't on the television like it is today.

15:38 But that would have been the early 50s there wasn't too many televisions early and she was you know, nothing church every morning for a farm.

15:49 But not yet. I did but I didn't have to say that I did go out with a couple of man before he was away because we were engaged we weren't, you know, they should be married or anything like that and I'm going to leave it the way I did date a couple other fellows, but I always

16:13 And then he came back and you obviously didn't go with the other guys. You start growing back.

16:22 And what was that like when he's back was he different? Yeah, he was more quiet. He was he wouldn't like really talked about his what he saw never talked to me about if you talk to him Ray once in awhile right with tell me afterwards few things and he but he did tell me a story about one of his best friends getting killed their stuff like that that really affected him terrible.

16:51 And I'm so how many how did you I don't know. How did you come to be married? I guess a lot and we really know we really loved each other and you know, I got to know his family and his sister Alice which I could very friendly with it just was like one of those things that just involves I guess, you know you go so long and everybody was getting engaged at that time and get married and things like that and we just decided to get married sometime. We could have been engaged and get married a year after I get gate we got engaged, right?

17:38 So well, I mean, I know I kind of know our history history after that. But is there anything I don't know quite well, especially those early years. I mean, you know in that you got married 1953, correct? I was born 1955 and then then you had a couple miscarriages long before you and I had one after you have an ear at 3 right in a row right my brothers.

18:10 I don't know. What was it like to be, you know a young woman and to be pregnant 6 times have 4 kids and you know see everybody that's what life was then I mean women didn't work then very few. You might find some people might have worked at night or you know, like this is some things are nervous or something might have worked but most women in them days when they got married they stayed home and you know that you had the big children and you just kept house and you know,

18:45 Did the things that you were supposed to do kept the house clean it did you cook in and took care of the children in the men than them days didn't do too much around the house. They didn't have much to do with the children when they were small and never going up in an hour to feed them change diapers in my experience with people that I know, you know, when you had friends, did you always had your friends said we're home to always the same time and very few women had cars that neither. I mean, you just have the one car in the family. So it was always like take a walk and go to somebody's house with the children and me to pick playground or something like that.

19:25 And did those years I mean know they're complex. But I mean that they are memory of them is generally, you know, happy or get a little sad about things. Everybody doesn't life and death but on the whole I love to love to you guys when you were small and things that you do and things like that, but you know, there's always something happens in the in-between that might make you sad. Can you just mention a couple of specific things like things are really gave you a lot of joy and things that other things that work for difficult for you to experience

20:04 Well, you know when when

20:09 Migrant even your grandmother when you find his mother passed away and when his sister passed away Alice when she was so young and having a baby at 34. Let me know. It's those were very very trying times if I had it was very close to her. And that was very sad when he took that very badly.

20:29 And then of course as you know, your father. A drinking, so there were times then when he was had his problems with the drinking that too would cause a little you know.

20:40 Things in the family wouldn't come home for supper, you know, things like that, you know and when he did he was

20:48 Unhappy times, but then, you know you get older and you get a little braver and you get more courageous and you just go along cuz you know, this was part of your life and you just go along and do the best you can and try to keep everything together.

21:08 The best you can do you have any like specific image memory experience? It may have nothing to do with the kind of General narrative right for life. Just like a something you know that gave you great pleasure that you will always remember an image or something that you experienced. You know from what's a you know, that that time, you know, like in the sixties.

21:33 No, that's just the biggest memory. The the biggest Joys I have had with you guys. I mean, you know seeing you all of you being well me and you know trying to be happy and just being with you and family. My sister is my everybody likes Christmas and Thanksgiving all the family getting together and doing things like that. And that's about the I was always well, that's all I ever wanted then to Joy in my life.

22:04 But there's I just remember certain things that are this what kind of crazy and you know, I mean like a time for instance when you know, Freddy and Robert went a dance with Dena attack. Well, I don't know why I remember living in the projects and and you know, when I was a kid, I didn't really understand that you may have seemed relatively Pleasant know he was drinking heavy at that time. I remember, you know, I remember like my first rainbow and icicles and fireworks and ice skating and all of these things from that are from that time looking back at it. Now thinking like that was those must have been difficult circumstances in some ways. It wasn't because I mean he was working and not he wasn't breaking us.

23:04 Wikipedia Slater

23:08 I think after I had each child each one of your brothers is a thing is good. He just couldn't handle all of

23:16 The commotion and love children and things like that and he just kind of

23:21 Gave up on family life or something. I don't know.

23:26 I never quite understood what?

23:29 Never talked about it never get them to talk about any of those many times. Is that asking saying let's go see somebody let's talk about it. What can I do? I'll handle it myself. That's all I ever said.

23:44 And so stupid he trying to make life more or less.

23:50 Easy as possible for you guys. So I mean I couldn't get them.

23:55 It's too crazy once in awhile.

24:00 But you I guess I mean looking back on it. Now. Do you feel like you you changed right. Cuz you had to absolutely in what ways do you think shy person growing up and was always kind of afraid to take a chance or do anything but no, I knew that I had to get strong and I just did things that I never in a million years would ever thought I do go get job is that nice drive a car by myself all the way to Boston do different things like that. And you know, I just made me a lot more stronger.

24:42 So I mean, you know something good came out of something bad relationship to your face and the church was I would

24:56 Question it once in awhile. Naturally. Everybody does I think you know, but I never would not have it and I would question why these things would happen and where are you you know and all that stuff, but I never waved in my face.

25:13 And then but you also had some disagreements with one priest about to know you're thinking about.

25:24 Separation from my dad and and you saw his cast it and I have my father even came with me because he knew that you know, he was not.

25:38 Behaving rice, you know everything and he came with me to was right after Mike Keith was born and we went he went to the church and talk to the priests and tell him I stories and everything else and then he wanted to see your father and your father went to visit with him and I would ever your father said to him which he always had this way about him. He won the priest over the priest thought it was me thought I was terrible not he's going through a bad time. You should be trying to help him.

26:05 I said what about me and them days? We're not a lot of help and are they where they weren't like priests today is you can talk to him much better than years ago. You know, you couldn't really go to a priest and tell him all your real problems years ago. They just the type that time and what about somebody like sister Francis shoes I could but I never talk to her that much be an actuary shame sometimes about some of the things that happen in your life. You don't want everybody in the world to know so I used to keep a lot of it to myself but I made sure you knew what you was always there to call her anytime I wanted and talk to me and you know we go to visit her and I will text you guys. Do you remember going to the convent? Yeah, you know, I went to Catholic School 7th and I was an altar boy and all that as you know, so I was around religious people a lot but it always seemed to me that sister Francis was of all or our relatives.

27:05 You know the most tolerance and joyful indications of a person and not judgemental anything bad about your father never nobody ever did it get so mad at him and be angry with him and say things to him and then he'd be okay for a while and then forgive him because he was so likeable guy and I just had a problem which I should say. She was wonderful. She was always so can you tell me a little bit about some of the important women in your life?

27:51 I would say yeah, my she was sorry. She was very important to me and my friend and for all alone my G and good friends. My sister Janice was she was always, you know be there if I want to talk.

28:11 Say things to me and things like that and and and now my friends today, my friend Gene and Nancy wonderful friends that you know.

28:23 True life the same as we did. I did. You know what they problems in life and raising children and stuff like that. They've been very influential in my life 2.

28:39 So but can you tell me any story specific story that from about any of those people that somehow I'm illustrates the kind of person they are or what they meant to you.

28:54 The same

29:00 The funny sex probably not nothing's going to come to my mind cuz I'm sure there's a million of them.

29:06 Well, you just sister father's wish I should have mentioned her Alice. She was very instrumental in my life want while she was alive. She was the one that would never say anything was her brother. But then you still she knew that, you know, things are not good and she would come over the house and with big bags of groceries and clothes for you guys and toys fire when everything else and never never say a word never expect anything back. Nothing should just come and come on. Let's go out. Let's get in the car and go off and try to make everything happy for a little while like an hour and stuff like that which we want. I wasn't that unhappy all the time, but she just she really was a very influential person in my life while she was alive.

29:59 And my friends Eugene imagine and they both were cuz they were friends your father's first and yet they were right there in front of me.

30:12 And always say helping me and I would have come keep at it and I will just be there for me would call me all the time. Come on down the house. Do something new?

30:22 I feel like I've learned a lot about friendship from watching your friendships cuz you're incredibly loyal to your friends and your friends are really loyal to you and you've had these lifelong relationships and where you become each other so I don't know guides but you know sort of fellow Travelers, you know, where you compare notes and exchange new experiences and you know offer support and just you know pass each other's past time with each other, you know, and I wish we grew up together with the same kind of problems and the children and and, you know brought them off altogether and we know you know, it's what it's like sometimes to just raise children in a winter in some in the world today and try to keep them all, you know.

31:19 On the right track more or less and still have a good friend beside you.

31:27 So do you want to say anything about what do you want to tell us a story short story or brief full and accurate about each of your children?

31:39 Something about them. Well sure. It means far as you are concerned. You've always been like my lifeline cuz you are the oldest and you are always very loyal to me and very compassionate and and always understood what I was kind of like what I was always going on and you were always give always been there for me Brian now is a child. He was difficult enough to bring up Haley said his own separate ways and doing things but I can always remember after he had his bad accident he changed so much and he became so worried about me. He wouldn't go out the door if I knew I was alone at night he would call for 2 or 3 times at night. You will be there. Okay, don't you all right for you before I came home.

32:26 Steven was was kind of you know, the child with never talked much and never told you too much about himself, but he was always very kind and very gentle and I'm over having my coming home from the hospital after having a hysterectomy and he stayed in the house with me cuz you want to leave me and he would go downstairs and do the laundry for me and Keith Keith was my little stand by when he was young. He was always with me was always, you know, whenever I want to go anywhere just have to go along he'd come with me was awful good about that stuff, but on the whole I'm very proud of all my children and they're all wonderful men.

33:08 Praise you in advance

33:12 Is there anything that you'd like to talk about it or anything? That's come to mine as we've been chatting that she's like to have a dress.

33:21 No, just wanted to say that I'm very happy the way things have turned out for us and my son's us also lucky that wonderful wives super me.

33:35 German that's good. You better off. I know you know thank goodness said he's a good guy and he's always been very good to you guys and you know had never interferes when things come along with you and me and my children never did which is good and I'm happy that he's like that way that way and he's proud of you guys, too.

34:10 And he's a good guy really happy to have had him around all these years. You been married now 20 years, really?

34:19 When else

34:23 How can I ask you a question? Do you have a favorite memory of your mother or visual image?

34:34 Well, I just thought that my mother was unbelievably beautiful and and I've always been I'm a photographer and so since I wasn't quite young I've always been attracted the photographs, right and they had this incredible wedding album and which was sort of like I kind of cream colored soft covered with gold embossed letters and then these big black and white photographs inside and it was like the most elegant object that we had in our house.

35:11 And and because first of all, it was really amazing about the photographs was, you know, this kind of unbelievably silvery whiteness of your wedding gown, which was the most dramatically over there ever seeing them can a credible velvety black tuxedo at my father was wearing and I couldn't believe it that you know that you looked like that, you know that you could look so beautiful and everybody else that I knew my aunts and uncles were all in there, you know best clothing and and you know it so I saw those people all the time, but they were in their clothes. So it was kind of amazing theatrical Dreamworld or something that that wedding album represented. And so yeah from early age. I was just always kind of very impressed by you know, you know, I know my mother is elegant suck ass and her Poise and

36:07 Yeah, I said that that was the most remarkable thing. And this is a really weird story, but I can tell it anyway I'm in because it's representative in a certain way of our relationship. And you know, I'm you know, it was right after dad died and we are living on the Fellsway and you know money was tight and all of that and you had this you came home one evening and you had this winter coat that you had bought and you were trying it on for me and you were saying, oh isn't this nice and it had this kind of fake fur around the hood and I remember thinking feeling like tremendously sad, you know, I mean, I think that I in a way I had to

36:51 That moment sort of distilled all of this or sadness of loss and sort of economic depravity or something and I was just like, you know, I thought just thought you deserve a real fur coats, you know, where we know in this in you were trying it meant so much to you that it seemed to me I'm reading might be reading into the situation that you know that I was, you know could approve it. You know, that wasn't that it looked great is it look fine, but I was just thinking, you know, it really should be in a real fur and and just about wishing that for you right and just recognizing that this moment, you know, we just didn't have a lot of money and it was just the kind of condensed into that moment, but I think

37:38 I don't know what to add an offense specific more specific memories, but just that that moment when you know after diet dad died and just family transformed I think slowly taking her from this kind of atomized can a fragmented, you know, possibly totally dysfunctional family into this kind of coherent, you know, self-identified. Do you know CORE family and we were leaving for boys. I guess we are like fiercely protective of you and and I think that's continues over the last 30 years has

38:17 I'm lucky.

38:20 Nowhere lucky

38:29 So is 2 minutes, what do you think?

38:32 Well, I just as I say I never received talked about that for a kind of a kid if I had it for a couple days to say that you're fine. I don't care if I have a 4 Koh don't care if I own the brand new car. I just want the family together and just be happy and everybody who know just in a live nice and be good to each other. It's all I ever wanted out of life. It's everybody has to be happy and be nice and be good to each other in my wishes have to come through which is wonderful.

39:01 Check cash place to end. Thank you, Mom. You're welcome.