By Darlene DeVita
(The following is one in a series of sneak peeks at the upcoming People of Chelsea additions by Photographer Darlene DeVita. The new work will ultimately appear on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library (CPL) this fall in a collaboration between the People of Chelsea project and the CPL.)
I was born and raised in Chelsea. I’m Polish and Irish, I was a cheerleader, figure skater, and a gymnast, a pageant queen (Miss Chelsea 1985), captain of the cheerleaders, played softball. When I graduated, at 17 years old, I ended up getting a job at the airport working underneath airplanes for seventeen years. I did a seven months stint as a flight attendant and hated it.
When I was a kid, I wanted to play football and hockey, but girls didn’t play back then. I was a better skater than half the boys! I was always a tom-boy, but I had high-heels and high-tops! I bartended and waitressed since I was 17, all over the place, and my claim to fame was that I was the worst bartender on the North Shore because I was a sharp talker. I got married at 25 and moved to Australia. (I met him on Revere Beach-that should have been a red flag! But it worked for seven years, and we had two beautiful children.
I’ve lived out of the city, out of state, and out of the country, but I came back to Chelsea every time. Chelsea has always been my home. After moving to Westborough to raise my children, I came back here after they went to college. I had a temporary position as a State Police dispatcher that I was hoping to whittle into a full-time position, but it didn’t happen. I ended up at Chelsea Housing on the Painting crew. Then, a secretary at Chelsea Housing said they were looking for women to build the Casino [in Everett]. I always wanted to be either a fireman or a carpenter, so I applied to both, and the carpenter’s union called me first, so I ended up working at the Casino. If you worked in male-dominated fields and are not afraid of hard work, you were pretty much a shoe-in. When the Casino was finished, I asked if they had anything in Chelsea. They said there was a position, it’s really hard work, but it’s on your beloved bridge! It’s been a year and a half, and I’m still here. I don’t know what my next adventure will be. I’ve had cable shows, I feel like that’s my niche. My dream, I want a character kind of based on me: a middle-aged, menopausal construction worker, fouled mouth, former beauty queen, and have all of my life experiences molded into one.