The local fight to get a memorial for the first Jewish boy from Chelsea killed in World War I has long been forgotten. And the fruits of that fight – a beautiful memorial to Max Address at a busy intersection in the city – have also been long forgotten.
In fact, the entire memorial has been long gone – swallowed up by the Mystic/Tobin Bridge decades ago and no longer in existence.
The story of Max Address and his memorial, however, were revived this week when a local real estate agent, John Green, brought in a photo montage of the dedication of the square – taken on Memorial Day, 1921. A little research accompanied the spread, telling all about how Max Address Square came to be.
Address had been a member of the Judean S & A Club in Chelsea before heading off to World War I.
Tragically, he was the first Jewish boy from Chelsea killed in the big war.
The Judean Club organizer, Jack Kriteman, started a movement throughout Chelsea to get a memorial to his friend, Address, at the junction of Everett Avenue, Walnut Street and Third Street.
Kriteman petitioned the Board of Alderman for the change. At the time, former Alderman Samuel Falkof was running for office in what was Ward 2 and he promised to donate his entire salary, if elected, to build the memorial and the appropriate fencing.
The club members reportedly began a campaign, which culminated on Sept. 23, 1920, when they held a carnival at the Chelsea Theatre to raise money.
Falkof was also elected, with the help of the Judean Club, and therefore donated his salary to the effort.
In the end, they were very successful, and were able to dedicate the memorial on Oct. 31, 1920.
More than 10,000 people showed up at the dedication, with Falkof placing a bronze monument to all those from Chelsea who died in World War I at the base of Address Square.
Guests of honor at the ceremony were Major-General David Shank, Judge David Lourie, Mayor Melvin B. Breath, ex-Rep. Maurice Caro, Alderman Sam Falkof and Jacob Hamberg.
Mrs. Henry F. Hanff, a Gold Star mother of World War I, unveiled the monument.
Monument committee members were Kriteman, Barney Bookstein, Nathan Shapiro, Murray Quint, Jacob Tuton, Harry and Julius Averdun, David Hoffman, William Hoffman, Jacob and Benjamin Baer, Max Siders, Harry Sugarman, Abraham Salvansky, Morris Lichenstein, Samuel and Louis Kriteman, Israel Landi, Edward Silberstein, David Price, Samuel Low, Benjamin Guttenberg, Max Baker, Morris Slotnick, Hyman Silverman, Benjamin Yabovitz, and Louis Alstader.
Time has certainly moved on.
Nowadays, Max Address Square, of course, is right squarely where the onramp is located for the Mystic/Tobin Bridge on Everett Avenue.
It’s long, long gone.
We wonder if those 10,000 saddened souls gathered to remember their friend, the first Jewish boy from Chelsea killed in World War I, could have ever imagined a towering bridge carrying an interstate highway would trump their efforts for a soldier who had died in combat?