Sunday, December 19, 2010


Boursalu Mari lived on Dexter Avenue, around the corner from Nichols Avenue which led straight up to Coolidge Hill Road in Watertown, where my dad lived during his junior high school years.  Boursalu Mari  had not always lived on Dexter Avenue in Watertown;  she had escaped a genocide in the faraway city of Boursa, faraway from Giligia from which most of the Armenians in Watertown had fled.

In the fall, when the apples were ripe, young Peter and his friends loved nothing more than the challenge of climbing the fence surrounding Boursalu Mari's yard because Boursalu Mari had the only apple tree on Dexter Avenue. After clambering up her apple tree, they stuffed their pockets with apples. They knew Boursalu Mari was tough and brawny and loud and that she would beat them if she could catch them.  So day after day, they would jump the fence, climb the tree, take what apples they could, and flee, Boursalu Mari shouting after them. One day, however, Boursalu Mari came out of her house before the boys could climb out of the tree.  She hollered out to them in her loud, husky voice:  Bedros, you don't have to jump the fence to get apples, or run away when you see me;  you do not have to steal the apples; you're welcome to all you want any time.

Somehow  Boursalu Mari's generosity worked in reverse.  The boys no longer wanted the apples as the fruit was no longer forbidden.


  1. This is Marash Girl's husband. Returning home yesterday from the "Armenian store", Marash Girl saw, in a back yard on Dexter Avenue, an apple tree which launched one of her father's favorite memories about his Armenian neighborhood.

  2. It's like the ancient Olive tree that still survives on the Acropolis in Athens, well told in ancient Greek tales, and protected by Pallas Athena!

    Another tree tale: Grandpa Peter's favorite photo of Grandma was taking in Spring, standing before one of the apple trees adorned in pink blossoms at the Lowell Ave house. It must be somewhere. Even when she was living he stated it was his favorite photo of her.

  3. WAIT A SECOND....
    Bursa is in the Northwest of Turkey, South of Istantonople and South of the Sea of Marmara...
    What the heck was Mari doing there? Was she born there, or did her family go for work? I'm assuming that Boursalu Mari means Mari of Bursa. Hmmm... that's pretty fascinating and I'm anxious to find out what she or her parents did for a living, if anyone knows or remembers. I'm equally curious to know what her genocide experience was like if she was in that area at the time (as opposed to the interior, or the Sepastia region, or Cilicia). Fascinating!!!!

  4. We did the same to Vergine badji,by trespassing her house and stealing some fig from her tree.
    Garo Derounian