A couple of indispensable sidebars on Bostonians whose memory I cherish: it would be a crime to leave them out. No photos, to my shame. Wish I’d thought. It was Blanche, wasn’t it, who taught us about the kindness of strangers…
We East Composters, eight or ten strong, scruffy and hungry, would depart the dorm around 9:00 of a Saturday morning in 1958-61 and hike across the Longfellow (“Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker”) Bridge from MIT in Cambridge to the neighborhood of the Customs Tower at the Waterfront in Boston. Then we’d get near the front of the line, so as to be able to dash upstairs when the door opened at 10:30, and claim our spots at Maggie’s table.
This is how the line outside the Durgin-Park Dining Rooms tended to look, back in the days before they gentrified the Quincy Market area out of all recognition.
Maggie, you see, distinguished herself among Durgin’s notoriously sharp-tongued staff for her determination not to see undergraduates starve. Each of us would order a 95¢-special lunch, instituted in those days to get around Governor Foster Furcolo’s Old Age Tax of 5% on restaurant meals over a dollar. When we finished the glass of milk that came with the special, Maggie, ever tall, skinny, dark-blonde, and nearsighted, would absent-mindedly rest a broad tray of coffee-creams on our table and turn her back. By the time she looked at us again, all the cream-jiggers were empty, and our milk-glasses were pretty much full. Miraculous! Same sort of deal with trays of Durgin’s excellent corn-bread to which we weren’t, strictly speaking, entitled.

For a sweet sequel from 1964, please check in over there.
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