As things re-open, it was a pleasure to resume in-person interviews this summer. For the return of Humans of Hyde Park, a special in-person interview was conducted on a beautiful June morning with neighbor Victoria (Vicky) Gall at Fairview Cemetery. As president of the Friends of the Hyde Park Library, Gall led the fundraising efforts for the installation of a headstone for Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first Black woman in the United States to earn a medical degree in 1864.
Tell me a little backstory about yourself:
I grew up in Connecticut, in a family that volunteered in the community. My mother with Hungarian refugees and with retarded children (the term used in the 50’s and 60’s), and I was a girl scout and candy striper. After college, I was very active with the Arthritis Foundation and AIDS Action Committee. When I moved to Hyde Park I went to an open meeting of the Friends of the Hyde Park Library and I’ve been with them since the mid-90s except for two years when I was in the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan.
I learned at a young age that I enjoy being active and helping others. Now I have even more time, so why not do it! In the past few years, I became interested in other local groups so I connected with the Hyde Park Historical Society and with Keep Hyde Park Beautiful for neighborhood cleanup and beautification projects.
Walking by the headstones of Dr. Rebecca Crumpler and her husband Arthur, Vicky provided a bit of backstory on her involvement:
This project developed from my love of history and cemeteries dating back to childhood. For the Hyde Park Historical Society, I wanted to find where people significant to Hyde Park were buried. I learned that Dr. Rebecca Crumpler - the first Black female physician in the United States - was buried in Fairview Cemetery. I looked for her gravesite and was surprised to find that she did not have a headstone. I immediately realized that something had to be done. I formed a committee and we started fundraising in February 2020. Within 2 weeks we had sufficient funds to purchase her headstone, and a separate headstone for Arthur Crumpler. The donations came from across the country and all four MA medical schools. We’ve brought overdue recognition to a medical pioneer and we plan to continue to honor her in different ways.
That project made me think, “who else of historical significance or human interest is buried in this cemetery?” resulting in this year’s Points of Interest self-guided tour. Small walking group tours can be arranged.
What do you hope for the community of Hyde Park?
If someone has an interest, just go out and investigate it. I don’t do a lot of group things - I’m more of a “give me a project, I’ll do it myself” kind of person. If you're like me, you can connect with a group that interests you and there’ll be things you can do individually. Try the personal ask to get others to help. For example, when people say “thank you for picking up litter” I suggest that they do the same in their yard or on their block.
When you have an idea, don’t be put off by people who say “that won’t work.”
What are you currently focused on?
For the Friends of the Hyde Park Library: The library will open in a few weeks and we need volunteers in the following areas:
1. Book and Media Sales
2. Garden Committee [NEW]
3. Children and Teen Program Planning
4. Social Media
5. Indoor/outdoor entertainment planning
6. Educational offerings
7. Membership Recruitment/ Board of Director activities
8. Special Events
Any future projects you’d like to see happen in Hyde Park?
The Hyde Park Historical Society would like to develop self-guided Hyde Park tours [similar to the map of Fairview Cemetery] on topics such as Black history, industry, and the women of Hyde Park. All we need are volunteers and inspiration.
If any of the projects or initiatives that Vicky mentions are of interest to you, please email KeepHPBeautifiul@gmail.com so we can put you in touch with her.
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for a Humans of Hyde Park story; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973
Quiana first came to Boston as a college student, graduating from Wellesley College in 2002 and returned in 2016 to live in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.