National Geographic : 1974 Sep
These are still-placid and well-cushioned arenas where, as one aging Brahmin told me, "Bostonians enjoy pursuing a favorite pas time, doing business with one another." I SETTLED BACK one evening with a dis tinguished PB (Proper Bostonian) who agreed to express his opinions on the con dition that he not be named: "Not that I am afraid of expressing an honest opinion, it is just that here everyone is in his proper career line-banking, insurance, medicine-and public statements are for politicians; the briefer the better, too. "This is a very understated town," he went on. "It likes things to be comfy, cozy. It likes its leadership to be strong, and silent. No wave making. A hard driver here would go down in a hurry. While a man may embark upon public service, corporate risks on behalf of a cause are practically unheard of. "The citadels of privilege, however, have been slowly yielding. The Country Club, the Somerset, and others have been admitting Irish and Italians in increasing numbers. The day of the Hopi is passed." "The Hopi?" "Yes. A visitor at City Hall once noticed a man of exceptional energy, and was told he was a Hopi. "'You mean an Indian?' asked the visitor. " 'No,' came the reply, 'An Irish Catholic, but when he goes to bed he hope 'e wakes up as a Boston Brahmin.' " In fact, many of them think they have. But not enough, perhaps, to dissipate that certain agreeable stuffiness that goes with aboriginal rights, like that exuded by the two gentlemen rattling their papers in the Somerset a few years back, and noting that President Eisen hower had appointed a fellow member as a special assistant. "Well, I see here," one "Hub of the universe," Bostonians call their city, magnifying Oliver Wendell Holmes's more modest as sessment that its State House was "the hub of the solar system." Orig inally a scrawny neck of land poking seaward, Boston fleshed out during the 19th century as developers filled in the marshy acreage of Back Bay and the South End. Foundations for the city's schools, hospitals, and great financial institutions were laid then or strengthened. Annexing communities like East and South Boston, Charlestown and Roxbury, Boston left independent minded neighbors such as Cambridge and Brookline to themselves. Today an encircling ring of a hundred cities and towns dwarfs Boston proper, whose 660,000 people are only part of the more than three million inhab itants in the metropolitan area.