About three months ago, I wrote a short piece about the Working Boys Home in Newton. I stumbled on the place by browsing old maps of Newton in 1903 and 1946. There was (and still is) little historic information available, but the post has been drawing rich, personal experience and history related to the Home. Today, I'll introduce some faces of working boys.
The redbrick with an imposing clock tower was built in 1896. It still sits on top of a pine wood hill. Currently the building is functioning as a Jewish community center but was originally established by the Roman Catholic Church for the boys who were separated from parents.
One day, a reader commented on the post:
I grew up in Newton during the 1950s and 1960s and was always a little bit scared by those words on my local map - Working Boys Home. I feared being sent there if I got into trouble. I finally went there to look when it was the JCC about 10 years ago.
I really loved his personal depiction of the place as a local boy. His rich emotion pertained to childhood about the place must have been shared by the boys in the community. Parents might have used the boys' imagination when they found their boys disobedient. (i.e.: "You are a wicked boy. Your father will sent you to the Home, and you'll work day and night !!") Even for modern eyes, the clock tower on an isolated woodland draws quite a deal of imagination.
He asked about more history and photos of the place, and here is a piece of the WBH history:
1900 Census of WBH (Click picture to view)
The above is a census record of 1900. I obtained the information from another reader who told me that his ancestor was in the Working Boys Home. He explained that his ancestor came to the Home alone, separated from an out-of-wedlock mother. Considering from the stigma attached to unwed mothers in the Catholic Church, sadly the separation was a common practice.
I somehow had an illusion that people in the past had a better handwriting skill than us the keyboard or touch panel type. But, oh boy, I barely read those. I now have a full respect towards archivists who can decode those scribbles.
What I learned from the census was that they were called "inmate". The majority were born here in Massachusetts but their parents were from Ireland or Italy. The boys' occupations were...let me see..."at school". I originally imagined those boys were working at nearby mills in Newton Falls.
If you have some information or personal history related to the Working Boys Home that you can share with us, please contact me through the below comment section or creepychusetts[at]gmail.com. And I thank the readers who gave me an interesting insight to the Working Boys Home.