We know a little something about living on Memory Lane. Since 1951, the Sullivan family, along with a great group of people like Jim, Harry, Chris and all of the employees throughout the years have enjoyed the atmosphere of Castle Island.
What is your favorite memory? Is it the sights, the sounds, the smells? Share your memories with us and we’ll post it on this page and in our Flickr gallery. Send your memories & photos to us firstname.lastname@example.org
This photo from the 1970’s is one we had on file-but can’t you just picture Maureen’s grandfather & great uncle sitting in their respective cars with nary a glance in either one’s direction!
Maureen emailed us this great story: My grandparents both came over from Ireland as teenagers, and met and married here in the States. They raised their family in Dorchester, so Castle Island and Sullivan’s were an easy trip by car. My grandfather owned a bar, so he worked most nights, and his days were his own. Those days always included a trip to Castle Island for some good food and sunshine. My grandparents would sit in their car, overlooking Galway (I mean Pleasure) Bay, and be reminded of Ireland. Sometimes there was a grand-kid or two in the backseat, with a hot dog and some crinkle cut fries, followed by an ice cream for dessert. The actual Sullivan’s building has changed over the years, but the food order has always remained the same.
What gives this memory a bit of an Irish spin, is the art of holding a grudge, that has been perfected by our people over centuries. In true Irish tradition, in the very next car, was my grandfather’s brother and his wife, who had also immigrated from Ireland, and had made Boston their home. They enjoyed the very same ritual each day, but no words were exchanged. There had been a falling out many years before, and the two brothers never spoke. So there they sat, in their separate cars, enjoying their hot dogs from Sullivan’s, thousands of miles away from their homeland. No one ever knew the cause of the rift, but it certainly wasn’t strong enough to keep them from their daily escape to Sullivan’s and Castle Island. What some might call an “awkward situation”, we called a family tradition!
The cement turtle on the playground is still there with his elephant and kangaroo friends. We think they head to Miami Beach for the winter to catch some R&R, but have not been able to confirm that.
Jennifer writes on our Facebook page: “Wow! I have some amazing childhood memories of Castle island. Laying on the ground looking over the edge of the sea wall at the ocean below! The smell of the salt in the air mixed with fried food. Playing on the train and the elephant and the turtle! Walking on the castle wall holding my dad’s hand and sitting on the grass having some ice cream watching people fishing and flying kites :) good times!
[Matt is the son of Tom McCabe, the Historical Room in Fort Independence is named in honor of him and his work with the Castle Island Association]
My father made sure his three children got the same enjoyment from Castle Island that he did-two of his greatest passions in life were Fort Independence and Sullivan’s hot dogs. My earliest childhood memories are related to Castle Island: exploring the dark hallways of the fort, long car rides to explore old cemeteries in search of cannons to be donated to the fort, tossing a tennis ball off the side of the fort for hours if my brothers and I could not find any other adventures for the day. Inside the walls of Sullivan’s reside some of the strangest, quirkiest and greatest people I have and will probably ever meet in my life. To put it simply there is something about Castle Island that draws great characters, people who one will remember, people that one will be glad to have known. Spend one day in my shoes, talking with the people who work and spend their time on Castle Island, and I am confident there will be not a question as to what makes Castle Island special.
As I’ve gotten older I have realized that community is what makes it so special. Those familiar and friendly faces as we walked along are what made the trip so enjoyable each time. Even the tourists who might not know anyone are certain to bump into a chatty dog walker or an older gentleman with a story to tell. The relaxed atmosphere brings out the best in people. We want to meet new people and make new memories and Castle Island provides the perfect back drop for both of these desires.