Dolly Pickup has lived all of her sixty-three years in South Boston and could write her own book about a community she knows from experience at four 02127 addresses. Asked about almost anything and she quickly recollects the history of an area, business, family or landscape. One of the eight children, with grandparents and extended family houses away, has raised four daughters in South Boston, ran her own day care program, and commutes to her job at the Copley Fairmount Hotel.
She chooses to focus on her joy and pride in all of life, and not on the challenges that required her to work hard and stay on course.
“We had it all,” she said, recounting days of skating on a flooded “M” St. Park, walking everywhere, going to the beach and to the many stores such as Slocum’s, and then later, dancing and listening to bands at the Quiet Man, Bayside, and Triple O’s. I walked down to my grandmother’s and learned to crochet and sew, really everything and everyone was within a walk.”
She reflects on the enduring beauty of her neighborhood and fully understands how so many people have discovered the place she could easily feel she owns. But her attitude is one of acceptance and recognition of change.
“It is different. People get in cars now and go. They don’t have time to get to know people. And, then the rent and traffic and, you know, parking. I still sit on my front steps though and say hello and instead of the decorated baby carriages, you see so many people with dogs. I enjoy it, but people are too plugged into ear pods and phones. You have to look up to feel connected,” she said.
Caring for others, related and not, was a hallmark of Dolly Pickups early life, and a value and practice she continues.
“My grandparents were foster parents and adopted one child in addition to their biological children. My grandfather used to say he didn’t know how many in the family he would come home to,” he said.
Caring for people and offering a natural welcome while thinking under pressure, has spanned her day care career, parenting four daughters, being grandmother of seven, and working large events at the hotel.
“I am proud of all my daughters. I brought them up to be strong women,” she said. It seems she has succeeded. Two, Justene, owner of Deirfiur Home on East Broadway and Jenna, dog groomer at Broadway Dog Spa have a strong local presence. Jillian lives in Las Vegas and managed an animal hospital, as did Jaclyn, now living in Scituate with her family.
“We have always had a strong work ethic,” she said, and this seems an understatement of the responsibilities she took on and has inculcated in her family.
So, some time off? Slowing down doesn’t seem to come easily to Dolly Pickup. She has always traveled, including with her mother. “I would say, do you want to go, and she would say “book it.” She continues to look at the wider world, and works full-time at Copley Fairmont, while helping with the family.
Anyone as astute and tuned in to background stories as Dolly will acknowledge that nothing has ever been perfect in the old days or today, but she continues to choose South Boston as her home (“as long as I have parking!”). The tradition begun three generations ago continues with a regard for tradition and change, both obvious as she connects with lifelong friends and brand-new neighbors.
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