Growing up, I didn’t know anything about my grandfather. The most I had been told was that he was a “homeless bum” and according to my grandmother, who had divorced him, he wasn’t a kind man at all. She incessantly would say how much she “hates” him as I was growing up in Cambridge in fits of rage. When I always asked what the reason was, such a question would get met with even more anger, simply at the idea of asking.
My mother refused to tell me anything about him, as did my father’s parents, leaving one of several family mysteries in my childhood. It wasn’t until about 1994/1995 that I even found out he was ordained minister, and was astonished that I hadn’t been told this before. Why had I not been told? It was perplexing, mysterious, and very uncomfortable, because I didn’t know anything and felt I should know about my very own family. The reality came to be was that I didn’t know anything, and I didn’t even know why.
In 5th Grade, I began becoming increasing interested in History. I found history marvelous, comforting, and fantastic, yet it continued to bother me that I knew more about other people’s history than of my own family’s history. It became this massive gaping hole that stuck for many years.
I started research last year after Obama won re-election, putting to rest many questions I have had for many, many years. One of the places I looked was in the Boston Globe archives. I found a trove of new pieces of information there.
The first substantial piece of research I discovered was that his father, Clifford, was a Deacon. This came from his obit listed in a January 5th, 1989 edition of the Globe:
Clifford W. Bates, retired owner and operator of a Dorchester service station, died of a heart attack yesterday in Quincy City Hospital. He was 73 and lived in Braintree.
Mr. Bates, known as Grampy, was co-owner and operator of Al & Cliff’s Service Station in Dorchester for 32 years before retiring in 1979. He was also a supervisor for Bethlehem Steel in Braintree from 1935 to 1946.
Mr. Bates was a deacon at the First Congregational Church in Braintree since 1973. He was also a longtime member of the Delta Masonic Lodge in Braintree.
A Braintree resident for 48 years, Mr. Bates previously lived in Hyde Park. He was born in Providence.
Mr. Bates leaves two sons, Albert E. and David A. of Braintree; a daughter, Nancy J. Mills; eight grandchildren; and a niece and a nephew.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the First Congregational Church in Braintree.
Burial will be in Mount Wollaston Cemetery in Quincy.
This was quite a lot to take in. Not only was my grandfather an ordained minister that was something I was never even told, but his father was also a deacon. Even more interesting, was that I hadn’t known of any connection I had through family to Dorchester, and yet I discovered with this article that I had a family connection to Dorchester through my grandfather and his father owning the Al & Cliff’s Service Station in Dorchester from 1947 to 1979. I have yet to discover it’s address of get any pictures of it.
I had another breakthrough when I discovered a newspaper clipping around the same time on his mother, Natalie, from an October 1968 clipping:
Indeed, I had discovered yet another piece of the puzzle in that his mom was an Assistant Director of the Golden Rule Bible Class of Quincy for 12 years. Upon looking for more on this Bible Class, I discovered this from a 1967 newspaper clipping of the Globe.
So, now I have an address at 22 High School Ave. in Quincy, for this Golden Rule Bible Class, but I have yet to know substantially more about it. The Harborlights Gospel Team, another term which doesn’t bring to mind more information on it’s actual meaning. My grandfather, as depicted in this Quincy Mass schedule, was also director of the Harbor Lights Mission, now called the Harbor Lights Center located in the South End off of Blackstone Square. This occurred after his loss for Lt. Governor in 1971.