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In anticipation of the Roslindale Village Main Street 30th anniversary celebration, we’ve invited guest writers to provide insight into our neighborhood, and how it came to be.

A Talk with Josef Porteleki – Founding Member of RVMS

By Jocelyn Hutt

[caption id="attachment_5933" align="alignright" width="300"] Josef Porteleki - Photo courtesy of Boston Globe[/caption]

It’s hard to think about what Roslindale Village might be had it not been for Joe Porteleki. His imprint can be seen everywhere; not only with his family-owned and operated store, Roslindale Ace Hardware, but other businesses as well – Village Market might never have opened without his (and others’ help). This is just a fraction of what you find out when you sit down and interview Joe about the beginnings of RVMS and its evolution. As we get ready to celebrate its 30th year, we did just that – we sat down with Joe and picked his brain a bit to learn more about the history of RVMS, which of course is also the history of Roslindale.

What was the impetus to form RVMS?

During the 1970’s, there were many things affecting the economy; the oil embargo, busing (which affected Boston), and the development of Malls as shopping areas. These factors made it less attractive for people living in the Boston area to shop locally. At that time I was a member of the Roslindale Board of Trade and we decided to work with then City Counselor Thomas Menino to come up with ideas to encourage people to shop and live in Roslindale (which at that time was called Roslindale Square, not Roslindale Village.) During the late 1970’s, were we successful in working with the National Historic Trust – it was then that things began to turn around. We then hired Kathleen McCabe as the first Director.

What were some of the early challenges and successes?

Convincing merchants to stay open a bit later was a big win – we all understand that it’s sometimes difficult and it makes for very long days, but it increased foot traffic to the area which was a critical component. We worked on creating a more welcoming look and feel to the area– and we tried to make sure that the area was mentioned in the local papers as much as possible.

What are you most proud of as far as RVMS?

Well you’ve probably heard people say something to the effect of, ‘If I knew then what I know now” – I feel that way a little bit – but in the most positive sense. I’m proud to know that RVMS, which is a volunteer run organization at its core, is still functioning – it makes me happy to know that my hopes and determination weren’t in vain.

We couldn’t agree more Joe – and we, and Roslindale Village, thanks you for your contribution to our community – we couldn’t have reached 30 years without you.