Rozzie & Me: Abner Bonilla
The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work.
Do you consider the person who delivers your mail to be a friend and a neighbor? In Roslindale, most people do! Today we are chatting with Abner Bonilla about being a postal worker in Roslindale, his blog Travel New England, and reminiscing about the carnivals in Adams Park.
Kelly: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Abner: I'm from Roslindale, and I live in Roslindale. I live on the American Legion Highway side. My dad is from Costa Rica and my mom is from Cuba. They came to America in the 1960s and settled in Roslindale in the '70s. We could say that they are from Roslindale too. I think my grandfather came to Firth Street from Cuba and then moved to Miami after that.
K: Tell me about your experience as a postal carrier in Roslindale.
A: I've been delivering mail for 14 years. I've been working as a mail carrier in Roslindale since 2010. I've gotten to know a lot of people. I already knew a lot of people here from when I went to high school at Boston Latin. I started to see a lot of people on my route whose kids I went to school with. I just thought it was so awesome. I started talking to everybody on my route. It's kind of weird, but because of this job, I always know what's going on. I don't ask. People just tell me what's going on. Before there was Facebook, the neighborhood goings-on would just be by word of mouth. I work eight to ten hours a day, and during Christmas it's more, because we are really trying to do a good job and get everyone their mail. It's an awesome job.
People always ask me if I mind working in bad weather -- and I don't really. You don't really have a boss and you get to talk to people all day. I am being paid to deliver people's mail, but I also talk to them.
If we notice that you haven't picked up your mail in two days, we’re going to knock on the door. We want to make sure you’re okay. We get to a point where we know the people, so we really notice if something is out of place, or there's a fire, or there's smoke showing, or you haven’t collected your mail -- I've called the fire department before.
K: Did you deliver mail in another neighborhood before you were in Roslindale?
A: Yeah, I was in Brookline. It's two different worlds. The atmosphere in Brookline is different. There are a lot of higher income people in Brookline. Celebrities and baseball players live there.
K: Do you know of any celebrities living in Roslindale?
A: Not really. Not yet!
K: Tell me about your Trek New England blog.
A: My goal in life is to visit every city, town, township, and every corner of New England. I've basically been to every county.There are hundreds of counties in New England. The only place where I get stuck is northern Maine. There are some parts in Northern Maine that there is no real way to get to. I love to explore and write about it in my blog. I like the show Chronicle which shows some of that hidden stuff but, a lot of the times, I have to go look for stuff and find it myself. I love that I don't have to leave the country to do all of this cool stuff.
People who like to go ziplining and usually they think of doing that in Costa Rica but you can go ziplining in New Hampshire. You can go swimming in the rivers in New England and you don't really have to worry about crocodiles. I started my blog because I really wanted to show people that side of New England. I started the Instagram and website a few years ago but, technically, I've been traveling around New England since I was a kid. I was so lucky that I was taken to New Hampshire and Vermont as a kid. A lot of people in the City of Boston never leave their ten mile radius. One of the great things too is that people think they need a lot of money to access these adventures but a lot of it is free or very inexpensive.
You could spend $200 to $300 and go to Fenway Park to watch a game or you could drive up to a campsite, spend $40, toast marshmallows, be in nature, and listen to the game on the radio. What's better than that?
K: What's one of the coolest places you’ve trekked to?
A: I really like the Mount Washington area. If you want to relax there you can go to Mount Washington Hotel and just relax in an all day spa. I think it is so awesome when you're at the top of Mount Washington. You're up there and you're just at peace because you're looking around and there's not a care in the world. I just want everybody to experience that. If you just want to go down hill biking, zip-lining in the middle of winter, or ice skating on a pond, you can do that too. It's pretty fun. There's something for everyone even if they hate the outdoors.There are breweries, too. That's another thing I like doing, I like to drive around breweries. It's one of my favorite things to see how it's made.
K: What would you like to see happen for Roslindale in the future?
A: Building is a big issue in Roslindale. We should have a neighborhood council with representation from all over Roslindale. I feel like we can be stronger. We don't want to stop development in Roslindale because we want people to move in. We want people who can afford to stay in Roslindale to stay in Roslindale. We don't want a skyscraper here. We want people to stay in Roslindale.
K: What are some of your favorite things about Roslindale?
A: Honestly, my favorite thing about Roslindale is that it’s so diverse compared to other places. Here you're able to experience everybody's culture. When I was growing up, it wasn't like that. Right now in Roslindale, I'm getting a feel for everybody's culture, especially their food. I love food. I also love that a lot of people speak Spanish and Creole in Roslindale.
K: Do you have a favorite Roslindale story or memory?
A: When I was a little kid, I went to a preschool behind Sacred Heart, which is now a playground. The teachers would walk us down to the fire department on the corner of Canterbury and American Legion. The firefighters would put up the ladders for us and they'd let us play with the hoses. We got a feel for what they do and they were so nice to us. I wanted to be a firefighter. When the police would come by, I wanted to be a police officer. It was awesome to see what they did and how they showed us. You've got to appreciate what public servants do here in Roslindale and Boston.
K: Do you have a favorite event that happens in Roslindale?
A: When I was growing up in Roslindale, up until, I'd say early 2000s, there would be carnivals in Adams Park. They couldn't fit too many rides but they had a few. I know they fixed up Adams Park since then so maybe they don't want a big event like that messing the park up. The Adams Park carnival was in the daytime. Every kid there was my age. My mom would take me. I remember there was a bandstand right in the middle.