Most of you know my brother, Tim, as a writer, trucker, fisherman, political activist, neighbor, and friend. You probably don’t know much about his childhood and early years, so I will talk briefly about our parents, growing up in Boston and Dedham, and some early experiences that shaped Tim’s thinking about economics, history, and labor.
Tom Costello, our father, was born in Hyde Park in 1911, the youngest of six children. His parents were Irish immigrants from Galway who met in Boston. Our grandfather, Alexander Costello, was a groundskeeper on a large estate in Milton. Tom and his friends had a great time playing on the estate grounds. Most of his friends were children of the other Irish immigrants who settled in the Hyde Park neighborhood called Corriganville. Many of the men worked on neighboring estates or in local factories. The women worked as maids and household helpers.
Claire MacPhee, our mother was also born in Hyde Park in 1916, the third of six children. Her parents came from Prince Edward Island, Canada. They met in Boston and moved to Hyde Park where her father, Jim, worked as a machinist for the Sturtevant Corporation which eventually was bought by Westinghouse, where he worked until his retirement.
Tom graduated from Hyde Park High School an 1928 and went to work for the New Haven Railroad in the Readville car shops located on the Boston-Dedham line. The Readville shops were the main repair facility for the northern end of the railroad. At their peak they employed about 4000 workers – plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, upholsterers and welders. Tom became a welder and a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, Local #102. He was active in the Union from the start. He became President and served for many years. The President and other officers were full-time welders dealing with grievances and other problems as they happened. This was a no-frills operation; no expense accounts, no business lunches, no fancy offices. In fact, the office was in our house.