East Boston is relatively isolated from the rest of the city due to its location across the Boston Harbor. By the 1970s its residents were white descendants of Irish and Italian immigrants to Boston from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. East Boston’s residents faced numerous urban renewal projects that decimated a relatively large part of their neighborhood. Because of this, the residents that remained there by 1974 had already protested the city and state officials' actions on a number of occasions. Many were upset at the manner in which their neighborhood was being treated by City Hall and they believed that their children were not going to be treated fairly if they had to be bused across the city.
An Alternative Suggestion
Rather that busing students through the Sumner Tunnel, this letter sarcastically suggests that it would be better to transport children across the city in helicopters from Logan Airport. This playfully illustrates the contempt with which many East Boston parents viewed busing their children across the city. The neighborhood's isolation from the rest of the city possibly made busing even more of an issue for many of its residents. Parents worried about their children attending schools far from their home, literally across the Boston Harbor.
The author of this letter believed that the prospect of busing students out of their neighborhoods was an insane proposition and pleaded with the mayor to find another way. This stands as a stark example of the importance that East Bostonians placed on their neighborhood schools. Screaming out from the letter in all capitals is, "I WILL NOT ALLOW MY CHILDREN TO BE BUSED." Parents felt very strongly about this prospect and they were not afraid to let the mayor how they felt.
Letters from East Boston residents portray a strong sense of neighborhood pride. Much of this likely has to do with the neighborhood's isolation and history of change at the hands of city and state. East Bostonians wanted their children to attend neighborhood schools and were afraid that if their children were bused out of the neighborhood that the sense of community would be diminished.
"A Unique Breed"
East Boston residents had already faced a great deal of neighborhood change at the hands of the city. The author of this letter wrote of the expansion of Logan Airport, the loss of Wood Island Park, and the ever present smell of trucks related to Logan, and expressed their belief that these were all instances of how the neighborhood had perservered in the face of difficulty. They viewed busing as simply another attempt by the city to destroy their neighborhood and they were not about to accept it.
The author said that East Bostonians would fight busing, stating that "East Bostonians are a unique breed" who were "not afraid to fight for their rights of beliefs." That people still lived in East Boston, according to this resident, was a testament to their strong will and sense of neighborhood pride. Even though they had already faced a great deal of hardships they still called East Boston home, and they were not going to let busing change their neighborhood any more than other city and state government efforts had.
Though children were bused outside of their neighborhood, residents of the neighborhood believed that they had voiced their opinion in the best way that they knew. These few letters to the Mayor indicate just how upset East Bostonians were, and what they were willing to do and say to fight for their neighborhood.