This post provides some background information on Chapter 1 of A Place for Joey. It will have pictures, sounds, and maps to help you imagine what it would be like to witness the story as it happens in early 20th century Boston.
Here is a map of Boston’s North End. North Square, North Street, and Commercial Street are all marked.Joey’s apartment is probably on North Street south of North Square. He and Domenic head walk toward North Square on their way to the molasses tanks. It wouldn’t make sense for them to walk toward North Square unless that were on their way to the tanks.
Here is a map that gives you an idea of where Boston’s North End is in relation to Watertown.
According to Joey, the part of Watertown that his family wants to move to is countryside with “no sidewalks, no people, no nothing.”
Domenic and Joey argue with the molasses workman and the two Irish kids near the molasses tanks at the foot of North Street.
On page 10, Joey can hear the sound of the elevated train down on Commercial Street. For Joey, it might have sounded something like this.
On pages 15-16, Domenic and Joey hear two words used by other characters: “wop” and “mick.” According to Dictionary.com, “wop” is an offensive word or slur meaning “an Italian or person of Italian descent.” And “mick” is an offensive word or slur meaning “a person of Irish birth or descent.”
Even in just one chapter of “A Place for Joey”, there is plenty of investigation to be done into the story’s setting and what it would have looked and felt like to be tagging along with Domenic and Joey in the North End.