Tracy Desmond

Tile image

Current name: Tracy D. Welsh

Age when this tile was made: 11

Where did you live when you made this tile?

Billingham St. (near PowderHouse Rotary)

Where do you live now?

Atlanta, GA

Do you consider Somerville your hometown? Yes

What is your earliest Somerville memory?

Walking to the pharmacy and ice cream parlor on the corner of Broadway & College Avenue. Going to mass at St. Clements. Sledding down hills on Tufts campus. But my favorite was going to the movies at Somerville Theater in Davis Sq where I saw Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, Superman, ET...we had so much freedom. Getting school clothes at Decelle's and Gormans. Buying cakes from Lyndell's.

How would you describe Somerville in the 1980s?

It was very blue collar. As the youngest of five, I had a fair amount of freedom and was a latch key kid. I remember taking the bus and then enjoying the extended Red Line as a teen which allowed me access to Harvard Sq.

How would you describe Somerville today?

It seems more like a study in contrasts.

How has Somerville changed?

Some parts are very genitrified and many of the families from my youth moved further into the burbs. Other parts seem to have suffered more from the economic downturn. It does seem less homogenous now though, more diverse multicuturally which is a welcome evolution. Glad to see Davis Sq. with so many mom and pop stores and that it has managed to avoid the sanitization (and chain stores) that killed Harvard Sq.

I feel fortunate to have grown up in Somerville. There was a time that people would refer to the city as Slumerville or Scumerville, but I never understood that. We didn't have much and never managed a vacation but it wasn't until I went to college or left the city that I realized there was disparity. Yet I look at my youth and I am grateful that I grew up in an environment in which I never felt entitled and that I learned to work hard and that respect was earned. I also thank those teachers in my life like 6th grade teacher Mr. Ferraro who encouraged a sense of discovery and exploration. Traveling to other places has allowed me to appreciate Somerville even more. My profession today involves working across the non-profit sector and having exposure to social innovators, academics, advocacy organizations many who work to improve the lives of under-served populations. My Somerville roots inform my principles and my career choice. Once I was attending a client meeting in CA with a well-known academician who had spent time at Tufts. Somehow it came up that I grew up near the campus. He said, "You know what they say about Somerville?" I asked what. His reply "Throw a bob-wired fence around it and give everyone 8 to 20." This contrasts with the enthusiasm that many young professionals show when they proudly proclaim that they once lived in Davis Sq. Growing up in Somerville is a badge I proudly wear.