I came across this article that really captures what East Arlington was like for me growing up...
Arlington, MA, Then and Now In Arlington, MA
(circa 1970s and 1980s), there was also a big distinction made between the three parts of Arlington. You were either from the East, the Center or the Heights and only occasionally did they intersect. Your family either had money (Center and Heights) or didn't (the East). It was every East Arlington parents' nightmare to have to pick up your child at a friend's house in the heights. From Dow Ave to Mass Ave was like another world, especially at night. More than once, an East Arlington parent was lost for what seemed like hours trying to get out of that maze of streets. Forget Morningside. If you got caught up there, it was almost easier to park and wait for the sunrise then try to get from Mass Ave to Rt. 3 landmarks.
East Arlington was simple. You needed medication, you went to Maida Pharmacy. Wanted pizza, you made an Olympic Pizza run. You begged your parents for some money so you could go to the 5 and 10 store. Diary Twist or Friendlys were the spots of choice for summer night ice cream runs and Rocko's was it for penny (or cent) candy. For 6 months every day after school, my siblings and I would stop by and look in the window of the Audiosonics store to see our console television just sitting there patiently waiting for parts we were told. It was like a big homecoming party when that tv finally made its way home. One of the best hangouts was the Capital. One movie. That was it! Oh those red chairs were to die for. We groups of kids were spread out all over the place. Spitballs and paper airplanes flying all over the theatre. That was the only real place in town the rival "innocent" gangs were caught together. Hanging out at Waldo Park and the cemetery were the in place for those living between Mass Ave and Broadway.
Nowadays, East Arlington (EA) is just another extension of Cambridge. Most likely those who would give their eye teeth to live in their beloved Cambridge but just can't afford it realized the proximity of EA and the better property valuation for the buck. Gone are St. Jerome's and Immaculate Conception churches that helped to define what part of the street you lived on. Crosby, Hardy and Thomson gang (7 to 10 year olds) were legend and you couldn't wait to get to the Junior High East so you could finally meet your nemesis (who more times than not, ended up becoming one of your best friends from junior high all the way through high school!). Sidewalks now roll up at 8:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 and you don't hear parents yelling out the windows now for "Patty or Buddy, or Richard" to get home because the streetlights just came on. Now, Crissy, Susie, Ashley, Britney are all at organized activities with their parents shuttling them to and fro. The Arlington parents of today know all to well every border of Arlington. I think I would be hard-pressed to find a young Arlington parent that didn't know every corner of Arlington.
In the end, there's always good and bad in all forms of change.
p.s. I almost fell over not long ago when more than one person new to this area referred to Davis Square in Somerville as "the Paris of the US" WHAT? !!! You're joking! Yet another instance how different and new perceptions have become the new reality.
Regina Pontes Founder and CEO PhilRich Corp