By Carol Masshardt
“Working hands do this work,” said South Boston daughter and Union 223 Laborer, Leanne Boylan, 57, and no one can tell the story better than she can. She has worked on a number of projects that have recreated the city while living her long-evolved dream.
Graduating from Gate of Heaven and Cardinal Cushing High School, she began working at Joseph’s Bakery and stayed there for twenty-seven years.
“My mother was old school, she wouldn’t go beyond H. St,” she said laughing and agreed that she followed suit but had her eye on becoming a tradeswoman for years. “Someone came into the bakery who had a union hat on, and it was Martin Walsh! I was hoping to meet up with him and he encouraged me, but a lot of people said I couldn’t do it, so I dropped it for years. I connected again in 2000 and started on A street in the Central Artery Project.
“Sure, it’s cold and hot and even though the pay and benefits are good, time off isn’t easy, and with safety, you just never know, but I’ve been lucky,” she said.
Quality in baking or construction is something Leanne takes seriously. She knows good products and design from many years of being on the ground floor.
“When you see things, all come together, it is great, and you know it will hold up. Others wouldn’t stand up to Fisher-Price,” she said, in her straightforward way.
“It has changed a lot now. There weren’t many women in the trades, and I just didn’t know what I was getting into, but now there is an apprenticeship program, and you’re better prepared,” she said. I needed something secure and finally did it, and I am glad I did.
Rumors abound about treatment of women in most work environments, and perhaps even more in a male dominant field, but Leanne Boylan is clear.
“I have been absolutely, 100 percent, treated well,” she said. “I like everything about the work; the people I work with, and you have to be on the job site to really understand. It all comes together, and it is just unbelievable.”
Leanne’s cherished mother, Rosalie (Zaniboni) Boylan, has since died, but not before raising Leanne and her brother as a single parent, and buying a Dorchester condo at seventy-two when her long standing rental apartment in South Boston was sold. Leanne loved South Boston and still easily recalls her life on streets much different than today. “Everyone knew everyone,” she said, and it seems she still does know who lived where and the inevitable successes and foibles.
“Would I recommend this to other women. Yes, I would tell them that the younger the better. You get stability in life, and that is a good thing,” she said.
It took Leanne Boylan some time to find her way to some of the most significant construction projects in a city hardly recognizable. Once there, she has led a different life than her mother and devoted aunt, Gina Dugan, but their determination and devotion to the city is continued by the work of Leanne Boylan, currently working at another massive project at DotBlock.
She says that her body is riddled with arthritis and the physical conditions can be tough, but at the end of a long day and week, she hopes in the truck of a pal who is giving her a lift home and is a woman who seems quite satisfied with all she has accomplished.