By Riley Robinson
Carol Barry’s most vivid memory of her 75 years living in Mission Hill is leading sing-a-longs with her husband for neighborhood kids on the front steps of their duplex in the 1960s and ‘70s. Her husband played the guitar as accompaniment.
“Kumbaya, I think,” Barry said. “We were a bit hippie-ish… We would have a good time, but that was the old days. Now people don’t sit on their steps anymore.”
Barry is a hobbyist oil painter and member of the Mission Hill Artists Collective. She was a homemaker for much of her adult life, raising her six children in the neighborhood. Barry and her husband own their duplex. They live on one side, and one of their daughters lives with her two adult sons on the other. Barry said they bought the property in 1964 for about $6,000 and was surprised when rising housing costs pushed its value to about $2 million.
Her children were in elementary school when Boston began mandatory busing to desegregate public schools in the 70s. Barry said this is the reason the neighborhood has few families now. It’s a misconception, she said, that families have been forced out by college students.
“Busing emptied the city of lots of people,” she said. “Either the kids went to Catholic school, or they went. They moved out of the city.”
But her kids were already riding the bus to Dorchester to attend Trotter Elementary School. Barry thought it was better than the elementary schools closer to home.
“They were already being bused. So we decided to stay. We were sort of, ‘Well I’m not running away. I’m sticking it out.’”