Michael Cremin

Tile image

Current name: Michael J. Cremin IV

Age when this tile was made: 11

Where did you live when you made this tile?

19 Westminster Street

Where else have you lived in Somerville?

Murdoch Street. I spent an awful lot of time in the Winter Hill Housing Projects as well.

Where do you live now?

Reading, Massachusetts

Do you consider Somerville your hometown? Yes

What is your earliest Somerville memory?

I lived in Somerville until I was 14. When I was little, I remember my father taking my mother and I to the 'new' restaurant in Davis Sq., a cool place called McDonald's!

How would you describe Somerville in the 1980s?

Somerville was a great place to live and grow up in. We knew every family on our street; it seemed like there were kids everywhere to play with. We rode our bikes, played Relivio, climbed trees, and organized our own soccer league (with shirts and everything). Both sets of my grandparents and a bunch of my uncles, aunts, and cousins all lived within walking distance from our apartment. I used to be allowed to walk to St. Clements Church in Medford, and I could ride my bike as far as Porter Square (but no further!) Somerville was a safe and wonderful place to be a child, and I spent many happy hours of my life in the West Somerville Public Library, Powder House Park, and in the fields at Tufts University.

How would you describe Somerville today?

Somerville today is much more like Cambridge used to be back in the 80s. I don't recognize it now when I visit. Everything is different. There are fewer middle-class and working class families than there used to be. It seems like it's all college students, yuppies, and 'progressives.' Seriously: my old barber's shop on Holland Ave. has been turned into a Tibetan restaurant. We had the Winter Hill Gang when I was a kid, not MS-13. I can't help but wonder if all of the young people I see walking around Somerville know how different a place it is now.

How has Somerville changed?

When I came home after going to college and serving in the military, my friends said, "Let's go to Davis Sq. for dinner." I thought they were kidding. Davis Sq.?!?! That's where my mother used to buy fish. My parents couldn't get us out of Somerville fast enough when I was in high school (we moved to someplace 'nice'...Malden!) Now, I couldn't afford to move back if I wanted to. I often tease my step-dad and say, "Good thing we got rid of that two family house with the studio apartment that was spitting distance from Tufts, huh?" Somerville has turned into a place to go to for good bbq food at Redbones and burritos at Anna's. As William Butler Yeats wrote, "All changed, changed utterly." It's like someone has taken a box of postmodern crayons and drawn over the Somerville I used to know. If you squint, you can still see the outline of what once was there, but now it's all covered in crazy colors and bizarre shapes. Maybe I'm just getting old(er). The Barneys have taken over!

Somerville has a lot of ghosts for me, mostly related to my father. I drive by where Ten Hills Pub used to be down near Trum Field, and I shudder. Also, my step-sister, Deana Cremin, was murdered in East Somerville in 1995 by someone who has still never been brought to justice. My childhood friend, Frankie Newell, died of a heroin overdose when I was in college. For all of my bright, warm memories, there is darkness, too. Sometimes it's hard for me to go back to Somerville.

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